The Missing Dimension:

Home Page

Herbert Armstrong





Update Page

Site Guide

Whistler column

Ambassador Files

Weekly Poll


Flurry's PCG

Garner Ted Armstrong

Meredith's Living Church of God

United Church of God


New Poll
Full page ads, 6 foot fences and the use of tithes

Toxic Faith:
the ACD review and ordering on Amazon

Pam Dewey:
Memoir of the Tribulation
(off site)

Brian Knowles on Tithing: Article 1 and Article 2
(off site)

April 2 Edition

Kiwi WCG "Ceases Business":  If there was ever any doubt that the WCG was a business proposition, the New Zealand operation provided ample evidence. Only now is the sect establishing itself as a New Zealand based trust rather than a registered overseas company. This notice was one of two that appeared in the March 25 issue of the New Zealand Herald. Thanks to the Auckland source who passed this on.

Sieg Herb!  A new German site is being constructed "dedicated to the loving memory of Herbert W Armstrong, the human instrument God used to establish the Worldwide Church of God". Henrik Blunck, the site creator, notes:

What you have before you is not just another religious website. It is a site of VITAL and PIVOTAL importance to all our lives... Time is short as indicated by the end-time prophecies of Matthew 24... You need to study the materials and links on this page – our eternal lives depend upon each and every one of us taking this material seriously, guarding and preserving the eternal truths contained in our Bibles.

Thanks for the warning!  Henrik also states: "We do not count number of visitors, because numbers and growth are up to God - a matter of faith", and, "God is the ONLY copyright holder, as God instructed each and everyone of us through Herbert W Armstrong...."

Hmm. Henrik obviously hasn't heard the embarrassing story of the attempt Herb's lawyers made to suppress the Church of God (Seventh Day) booklet Has Time Been Lost? on copyright grounds. Turned out, though, that Herb was the one who had ripped it off from his former affiliation, not the other way around.

Painful Truth moves: Ed Mentell's Painful Truth site has relocated again. The new URL is - formerly used by Scott Murphy's satirical Graveyard Church of God.  A recent addition to the site is an article by John B. called My Grandpa;  a nice little family tale with WCG connections, and a memorable anecdote about Carl McNair.

April 1 Edition


The Ambassador Campus here in Pasadena has been home to the Worldwide Church of God for over fifty years. Naturally, Pasadena holds a very special place in our hearts. Now our mission on the campus is over, and we are moving on and must sell the property. Before we go, though, we wish to share our thoughts about how the contributions we leave behind may best be preserved for Pasadena's future.

In the coming weeks we will publish in these pages a series of informational ads designed to share with the entire city our objectives and goals in working to shepherd these remarkable 48 acres toward a new future that will honor and perpetuate our proud past.

We have been your neighbors for over 50 years. The story of how the Church turned a deteriorated patchwork of separate lots into the planned garden spot it is today is in large part the story of the neighborhood's past. It is a story we want you to understand as we together envision the neighborhood's future.

In 1948 our founder, Herbert W Armstrong (1892-1986), saw in Pasadena a place of unusual culture and educational heritage to move his growing ministry and open a small college. With the purchase of a rundown 17-room house at 363 Grove Street, just off of Orange Grove Boulevard, he began a long process of acquisition and improvement that would ultimately incorporate 138 separate parcels into the landscaped campus we must now leave.

Armstrong believed that the quality of our environment profoundly molds and shapes the quality of each individual's character. This belief motivated our commitment to create at Ambassador College a campus of unique tranquility and beauty - an environment that inspires all who walk its grounds. In 1963 the renowned architectural firm Daniel, Mann, Johnson and Mendenhall conceived a master plan for the campus that would "contribute a tremendous uplift to the appearance of this end of Pasadena."

Following that plan, a babbling brook now cascades among boulders beneath shady oaks where there was once a potholed street. Gardens and fountains were returned to, and improved far past, their former splendor. Ambassador Auditorium, an internationally acclaimed concert hall, now stands where there was once only a lumber yard and mortuary.

We've lovingly dressed and kept this garden campus under our care these past 50 years. And neighbors and visitors alike have shown their appreciation, expressed in a succession of accolades and national awards. We love this place and we want its legacy of beauty to continue to witness to our presence long after we are gone.

So we worked mightily to find a buyer who shares our sense of vision, and has a commitment to preserve the streams, gardens, trees and sweeping lawns, the stately row of historic mansions - and return to Pasadena an Ambassador Auditorium alive again with the spirit of music.

We believe sincerely that in Legacy Partners we have found the buyer we want. Many of our neighbors agree; some do not.

We know that change is often accompanied by controversy. We also know that sharing the facts with you about the future of the Ambassador campus over the weeks ahead will help dispel misunderstanding. We believe the more you know about what is planned, the more swiftly doubts and fears will give way to anticipation and high expectation. We believe you will discover that the best of what our neighbors hope for is mirrored in the vision that has guided us through these years of investment and planning for this transition.

For over 59 years we've strived to make this a better neighborhood. A little thing like moving away will not change that.

First shot fired in Ad Offensive - A Dateline Pasadena Report. 

Following is the text from Sunday's ad by the WCG in The Pasadena Star News [see box on right]. It is not on the web site.... I am sure that they will be publishing a smaller version soon on the web site or in the WN. It seems that HQ is more concerned about spending over $50,000 on a stupid fence and tens of thousands of dollars in advertising than they are about giving cost of living increases... Huge pay raises and bonuses seem to flow freely to Bernie's good buddies, but not to anyone else.

The article has a large picture of three women, all smiling warmly for the camera. Two of the women are Joe Tkach's secretaries. The other woman is an elderly Pasadena member.

Artaxerxes, the 483 years of Daniel and other stuff: Bernard Kelly has written a brief article refuting the 3 days and 3 nights column by Whistler. Kelly was a prominent player in the recent bust-up at ESN which saw Steve Dalton leave. Given what we see as Mr. Kelly's divisive style, we've decided not to run his material on MD. However, those who wish to contact him personally for copies of his articles can write to him at 130 W. Huntington Drive, Arcadia, California 91007. His email is An example of Kelly's exegesis follows.

... one must find out the correct date Jesus was born. This can be done by researching the exact time the Decree of Artaxerxes was finalized (Ezra 7; Dan. 9:25-26) which historians tell us was issued in the autumn of 457 B.C. Then Daniel tells us 483 years later is the date Christ 'appeared' which simple calculations tells us would be in the autumn of A.D. 27 at which time Jesus was 'about' 30 years old (Luke 3:23).

Kenneth Westby: We gather that Ken Westby's surgery went well, and that he is recovering.

Easter Issues: In a seasonal poll we asked, "What does Easter mean to you?" There were 88 responses. 43.18% said that it was pagan and to be avoided; 40.91% agreed that it was a celebration of Christ's death and resurrection; and a further 15.91% thought it was simply a nice custom.

The current poll asks whether the WCG decision to wrap its Pasadena campus inside a six foot fence, and to buy full page ads in the Pasadena Star News, is wise stewardship of the money sent in by members.

Stats: There was another record month in March for The Missing Dimension with 29 300 page views logged on the site.

More on the Campus sale: The following comments appeared in a letter published today in the Pasadena Star News. While writer Roger Smith is supportive of Bernie Schnippert and the Legacy project, his initial comments may strike a chord with people on both sides of the issue.

I have been a member of the Worldwide Church of God for over 40 years. This ongoing controversy over the sale of the property is very upsetting. I first visited the campus before many of the buildings were built. Even in those days it was a breath of fresh air to walk across the campus in an atmosphere of peace and safety.

I have lived in Pasadena almost 25 years. My wife and I are both former employees. When I first heard that the church was going to sell the campus my heart sank to my toes. How many of the members do you think want to see it sell? What corporation or group will love it the way we did and still do? Three of my five children graduated from Ambassador and three of them were married on the campus.

Selling the campus is like a divorce. In death, the loved one is gone you will never see her or him again. In a divorce, the body is still alive. It will still be there. It will always be a part of you. We are right now in a dirty, nasty divorce proceeding. When it's over will it go away?

March 30 Edition

UCG - The After Match Report: Everything you always wanted to know about the McCullough/Holladay presidential shuffle; and a good deal that you didn't. The Journal boldly goes where none have gone before in a detailed article by Dixon Cartwright. If you're not a subscriber (or, like us, it's still in the mail between hemispheres) you can read this article online.

Canucks on Conflict: The latest issue of Northern Light, the Canadian equivalent to the WN, has a couple of interesting features. The theme for April is conflict in the church. This comment from the editor:

A few years ago I attended a meeting of ministers from our denomination. The guest speaker dealt with the issue of conflict in churches... During his talk, the speaker posed the following question, "How have you dealt with conflict in your denomination?" There was general agreement (nodding of heads) when someone spoke up and said, "Why, we've handled conflict by simply removing those responsible for it."

Ain't THAT the truth!  David Sheridan paints a surreal but accurate picture of the dysfunctional situation in many WCG congregations today in When Your Congregation is in Conflict... and Colin Wallace attempts to deal with religion's tribal tendencies in a more academic piece called What's God got to do with it?

Good stuff! Any chance of an issue that has accountability as its theme? The accountability of leaders to those they supposedly serve.

Also worth mentioning in the April issue, midst all the ballyhoo coming from the fanatics on the fringe, is an article called "Harry Potter: What's All the Fuss About?" This follows a similar article in the British WN.

Legacy site correction: The new PR website designed to convince the good citizens of Pasadena that the Legacy option is the best thing since sliced bread (although not of course during the DUB!) is It seems that, in all the excitement, the apparatchiks at HQ got horribly confused, and a second email encyclical had to be issued to employees early Friday. This new site, Legacy at the Ambassador, is carefully targeted to allay fears and soothe furrowed brows.

Warren's Wanderings: Warren Zehrung has been associated in various capacities with the Worldwide Church of God, the Global Church of God, the Church of God (A Christian Fellowship) and the Church of the Eternal God. And now Warren has established his very own designer sect and leapt onto the Internet to spread his personal version of the Armstrong gospel. Yes, now you can add the Sabbath Church of God to your list of splinter churches. Writing to his new breakaway flock Warren states:

Once again, we have had to start over – looking for that day, as it says in Rev 3:12 when we "shall go no more out." We will continue, with all of our ability, to do those things we were taught. We are an end-time "Small Flock" as described in the Scriptures. Jesus said of those faithful brethren, "Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing (Luke 12:43). Many of our friends are looking for a large peaceful end-time church where everything is coming together – is that really what we will find according to the prophecies of Christ’s second coming? When we read down a little further in Luke, we see that we should not be surprised at the scattering that we see all about us, "Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division" (Luke 12:51).

And then comes the big, all important point:

Some brethren have inquired as to whether or not their tithes and offerings are tax-deductible. The answer is yes, they are tax-deductible. We have filed all the tax-exemption papers necessary to satisfy the Government’s requirements.

Whew!  That's a relief. 

March 29 Edition

-----Original Message-----
From: Janet Shay []
Sent: Thursday, March 28, 2002 10:38 AM
Subject: Legacy Partners Announcement

This message is from Dale Trow:

Announcement to all Pasadena Employees:

Legacy Partners has created a web site to keep interested parties informed about their project on the Ambassador Campus. You may access it by going to The Church will soon have its own site.

Look for full-page advertisements by the Church appearing periodically in the Pasadena Star News beginning Sunday. The ads are designed to educate the community on our history with the property and our perspective on the sale.

The Big Push: Dateline Pasadena reports: 

This came out today for the employees [see box on right].  There is a concerted effort now to woo the public and Old Town Pasadena Business leaders to back the project.  Bernie has told his crew to concentrate on City Council members other than Steve Madison.  It is a certainty that Madison will vote against the Legacy project, so they feel they should be courting other Council members and ignoring Madison.

A quick check of the Legacy website doesn't yet show any obvious links to the promised Ambassador Campus site.

Minister in the Middle: The bullying behavior of "headquarters" continues to have disturbing consequences. While local pastors are often the focus of member discontent, the reality is that these individuals are often severely compromised and sorely hurting. This excerpt from a recent church bulletin illustrates the situation.

I want to thank everyone for trying to be reasonable as we approach the annual Lord's Supper observance. To change in some issues can be very, very difficult. I remember three years ago encouraging an annual meal to celebrate the 'Night to be Observed'. Yet now I discourage it (I don't forbid it!!!!!).

I discourage it because of who I am and what I am. But you are not me and have your own perspective. I am different in that I get money every month that gives me a responsibility to respond to our leadership in everyway I can. If my conscience would not allow me to follow that leadership it would be unethical of me to continue taking the money. Thankfully that has not happened. When I have disagreed I have made it very clear to my supervisors who showed patience with me. And then because of God's grace I have seen that I needed to change. It is never easy!

But, like I said above, the Holy Spirit triumphs over human frailty.

In love, your frail pastor.

It would be ungenerous not to sympathize to some extent. But notice where this minister feels his responsibility lies: neither to God nor to his congregation but to the hand that feeds him.

March 28 Edition

From the horse's mouth:horses_mouth.gif (14006 bytes)

"I'm accountable to God." Joe Tkach (EMNR presentation, 1998)

MD Translation: "I'm accountable to nobody, and therefore the rights of members can be safely ignored." Strangely, in the same presentation Greg Albrecht tried to convince those attending that the WCG had embraced the Priesthood of All Believers. 

Don't Fence Me In: A Dateline Pasadena report today reveals the latest sad development in the self-strangulation of the Worldwide Church of God.

Bernie has come up with a new scheme to piss of the Pasadena residents that oppose the sale. They are in the process now of applying for a permit to fence in the entire campus.  They want the public to know that the campus is NOT a park for their enjoyment.  The other day while they were making the rounds trying to determine where to place the fence, they ran into a lady that was walking her dog on campus.  She was told that she and the dog were not allowed on campus.  She was not too happy and made the following comment.  "I have supported you on this property deal here, but now I think I will be voting AGAINST you!"  This entire plan is really going to piss off the neighborhood.  When they see this fence go up with prominently placed NO TRESPASSING signs surrounding the entire property it is going to look like an eyesore.  Since the City of Pasadena does not allow fences on residential streets to be above 3 feet, Bernie is having 6 foot fences installed 40 feet in from the curbs closing off the entire campus from any visitors.  Gates will be placed outside the Hall of Administration where they will monitor that NO one be allowed to enter the property.  Sadly, there are several elderly people that use the campus to walk around in for exercise because they feel safe.  These people will not be allowed on campus any more.

Bernie has also given orders that the opposite side of the freeway is to no longer have maintenance done inside the properties that the church owns. Now all the interior plants, grass and trees at Imperial Schools will be allowed to die.  They will no longer be watered or maintained.  They want the people to know that the church cannot afford to maintain it any more. (Even though Doc Bernie publicly has stated that the church is 'financially solvent.')  A minister in the Hall of Ad. today also said that this fencing project is just the tip of the iceberg in what Bernie has planned in order to intimidate the public.

A high ranking minister said the other day "When the church finally leaves this property we are going top look like assholes to the residents of this city."

Preterism Rulz OK?  While chaos engulfs the sect that Herb built, there's still time for Biblical enthusiasts to engage in the gentle art of walloping each other over the head with proof texts. A recent example can be found in Michael Fenemore's A Respectful Challenge to the Worldwide Church of God, along with a reply from WCG apologist Michael Morrison. Thanks to Dateline Pasadena for drawing this to our attention.

Judge (Me) Not:  In his April member letter Joseph Tkach states:

It is a delight to work with all of you, men and women who love God, who desire to know more of him and who are faithful to him. As we seek God’s leadership to advance his kingdom, let’s take care not to fall back into human standards of measuring success, whether our own or someone else’s.

We can understand how Joe might feel that way. After all, under his Napoleon-like leadership there has been an ongoing decline of disastrous proportions in both membership and income. One question though: putting aside "human standards", exactly which criteria does Joe think should be used to assess his performance? Does the Lord Himself come down to conduct Joe's annual performance appraisal? And how is it that the number of folk who Joe finds it "a delight to work with" is shrinking so drastically? Could this just be another red herring to draw attention away from accountability issues?

Restricted Donations: Have doubts about how the church is using your money, but can't bring yourself to cut off support entirely? The Likeminds discussion group has been tossing around some thoughts on restricted donations. One poster advises:

Earmark and footnote your tithes and offerings. Put a note with it saying specifically where it can be spent or not spent. You have the legal right, and 501 -C3 organizations have the legal obligation to obey the instructions given on "specified donations" which reserve where they can be spent.

For instance... "For YOU summer camp scholarships", or "For direct aid of widows only"  and I would also add to it the following "NOT for general funds or use, this is a RESTRICTED donation and use ONLY".

Vote with your dollars! If you do not like the way your org. is using money in some area, then limit the use of the money to areas that the org. is functioning correctly in.

Another member comments:

I kept books for a local UCG group for a couple of years and learned a lot about Restricted Donations.  Restricted Donations in any tax exempt organization or even a corporation are legally required to be used as specified.  How do you know for sure whether they are on the books as specified...ask and the organization should be able to tell you how they were booked.

And, if you haven't already, check out Brian Knowles' articles on tithing. One asks Did Abraham and Jacob Tithe? and another Should Christians Tithe?

March 26 Edition

The Beginning of The End? The shaky financial underpinning of Joe Tkach's personal religious fiefdom finally seems to be crumbling to nothing, and, like the famous "house built on sand", the WCG appears vulnerable to the next high tide. That's our interpretation of Ron Kelly's comments in the April Worldwide News. Kelly writes:

Ron contemplating distressing choices

So far this year we have banked $2.6 million in member donations. We have also received about $360,000 in other income for a total of $2.9 million. On the expense side of the ledger we have spent just over $4.4 million.

So already this year we have had to take almost $1.5 million from reserves. You can quickly see, even if we had been caught up with mail processing, we would still be dipping into the reserves at a greater clip than we would like.

Church administrators and board members monitor these figures on a regular basis. Obviously there is a limit to how much can or should be taken from reserves. So, as I write this month’s copy, we are discussing ways to trim expenses. Such meetings are difficult and emotionally draining. Making cuts almost always means termination of employees, however, pastors will not be terminated unless income from a congregation does not support a pastor. Cuts might include reduction of some worldwide activities and local programs that have long been part of our work to proclaim the gospel around the world. So we solicit your heartfelt prayers for the challenging evaluations that are essential to maintain a healthy financial footing for the church. We are committed to maintaining that financial well-being even though distressing choices have to be made.

Ministers will be sprinting for the lifeboats, along with those residual employees who have the luxury of alternate career paths. The Titanic stayed afloat for hours after hitting the iceberg, and "the band played on." The WCG hit its iceberg quite some time ago, but now time appears to be fast running out. How many more "distressing choices" can the sect take? 

And does anyone expect Captain Joe to go down with his ship?

ASK prepares for the long haul: The late Ernest Martin's Associates for Scriptural Knowledge will continue in the absence of its founder. David Sielaff has written to MD advising of two new initiatives.

It will be my job in the near-term to compile several books from his accumulated articles and writings for the Associates for Scriptural Knowledge.

One of the new features on the ASK website is a short animated graphic presentation developed jointly by Griffith Planetarium and MSNBC that has appeared the past three years on the MSNBC website. Of course, it features the Birth of Jesus scenario by Dr. Martin.

The ASK web site is found at The full text of the letter is on the mail page.

Kenneth Westby: One of the boldest voices behind the ill-fated call for accountability in the mid 70s was Ken Westby's. He currently runs the ACD web site, and is First Vice-President of the Bible Sabbath Association. We've learned that Ken is scheduled for quintuple heart bypass surgery this Friday. In an email to supporters he writes:

This note is a simple request for your prayers... Tests last week revealed that  many areas of my heart have severe blockages. I’ve been having symptoms of heart difficulties for some time. While I dread the ordeal, I look forward to the outcome of improved health and energy. Our life is always a matter of His providence, but moments like this make that truth starkly clear.

March 25 Edition

AC/AU Reunion site: Survivors of the Ambassador Experience, students and staff alike, may like to check the Nashville Reunion webpage created by Phil McCollum. The UCG seems to be promoting this event, and Gary Antion is featured speaker. The site also features some veryscary pictures.

Something Fishy: Who was it who, speaking of members of the WCG, stated "they no more know Jesus than my fish at home"? (a) Russell Crowe, (b) Pope John Paul II, (c) Hillary Clinton, (d) Joey Tkach. Hmm, tough one. Here's a clue. He is sole owner of his own church denomination, and he doesn't speak Polish.

Sabbath Poll:  Last week we asked, does the Saturday Sabbath continue to have meaning for you personally? There were 84 responses. 57.14% said no; 39.29% said yes, and 3.57% were undecided. The current poll asks how readers regard Easter.

March 24 Edition 

Cyber-Passover: In what may be a "first" the UCG is providing "live" online Passover services across three US time zones this year. In Los Angeles a Spanish option is provided. A "how to" letter is also supplied on-site.

Spring is Sprung: Meantime the WCG in Pasadena has delivered a mainstreamed version of "Spring Festival Services" for attendees. The closest thing to a formal Passover service is March 28 with a joint Lord's Supper Service with the members of Friendship Baptist Church (the traditional date is March 26). On the following day there is an ecumenical Good Friday service at a local Lutheran church where pastor Dennis Pelley will be participating. On Easter Sunday another joint service will be held with Lucious Smith (Friendship's pastor) and Dennis Pelley both officiating.

There is no formal Passover service as such, but the old-time holdouts may gather in the homes of suitably sanctioned persons where their recidivism can be discreetly catered for. Similar arrangements have been made for the traditional first and last days of unleavened bread.

The company we keep: Hank Hanegraaff, cult watcher, Plain Truth columnist and good buddy to Joe Jr. and Greg Albrecht, comes across as Mr. Squeaky Clean on his Bible Answer Man broadcast. What do we make, then, of the following issues raised by Jill Martin Rische?

The following verse, cited in the article, seemed especially apt: "No one speaks for the little sheep in the flock who have been wronged; only the selfish and abusive shepherd gets heard. (Ezekiel 34)"  It seems very appropriate in the WCG context as well.

March 22 Edition

Bernie's Busing Blitz: "Pack up the babies and grab the old ladies and everyone goes..."  MD's "headquarters correspondent", Dateline Pasadena, has forwarded the following story.

'Jesus Didn't Vote'

But that apparently didn't matter to some Worldwide Church of God members who favor Legacy Partners' plans to develop former Ambassador Campus.

By Erica Zeitlin
Pasadena Weekly

At a Pasadena City Council meeting recently on the controversial Ambassador campus project being proposed, the backroom buzz was  all about the large number of vocal project supporters who had come from out of town.

"Who are all these unfamiliar faces?" whispered many longtime residents in the audience to each other.

"Certainly, nobody we know."

Official sign-in lists show that speakers came from as far away as Sacramento - yet many of them identified their residence as "300 West Green St." in Pasadena, better know as the Worldwide Church of God headquarters.

That church developed the sprawling Ambassador campus decades ago, but has reportedly fallen on hard times in more recent years - and the property now has to be sold.  The church's spiritual leaders have optioned about 50 acres to Irvine- based developer, Legacy partners, which in turn has proposed
building 1,700-plus homes on the land.

The meeting March 4 at the Hilton Hotel was meant to offer residents the chance to air their views about the project, and presumably influence elected city leaders, who will be asked to approve the plans in coming weeks.  More than 110 people signed up to speak, including about 40 in favor of the project.

To the casual observer, the packed meeting was proud proof of Pasadena's politically active citizenry.  But then, maybe not.  About three dozen people who expressed their support for the project appear to have hailed from out of town.  Some identified themselves as residents of Palmdale, for example.  But the out-of-town residences could not be independently confirmed by press time.

Leading project opponent and West Pasadena neighborhood activist, Vince Farhat, did not mince words about his view of the crowd.  "It was clear that
the Worldwide Church of God tried to 'pack the house' with supporters, most of whom do not live in Pasadena," he said.

He and other influential residents who live hear the main Ambassador site have been fighting Legacy's proposal because concerns about its environmental impacts, including traffic congestion.  This would be perhaps the biggest, densest real estate project ever known to Pasadena.

Project supporters defend the proposed development as being "win-win" and stress there would be no costs of any kind to the city, only benefits.

Rumors were flying at the meeting: "My understanding is that the Church 'bused' in a number of people from around the state to attend the hearing," one resident said later, speaking on condition of anonymity.  But for his part, church treasurer, Dr. Bernard W. Schnippert, dismissed those "understandings" as mischaracterization.

Schnippert acknowledged that church leaders told members and employees about the meeting, but denied that anybody was bused in.  Besides, everyone has the right to speak, he noted, and church members' participation in this affair is perfectly natural.

"Our members are very, very interested in the project because they are the ones who support us with their tithes and offerings," he said.  "And they know we have been trying to sell the property."

Schnippert also addressed other complaints of project opponents, including allegations that church members who spoke were "contradicting" their own
ostensible church doctrine - which traditionally has looked unkindly at political participation.  The church's traditional doctrine holds that political participation, including voting, is sinful, according to official statements.  Church leaders have exhorted members "to stay out of political activities," including voting, because "The true Christian is one who follows Christ, and Christ did not vote!"

But Schnippert said that today's Worldwide Church of God has come a long way from that of yesteryear.  He suspects that very few members still actively reject political participation.

Councilman Steve Madison, who represents the largely affluent residents in this part of town, said that he has observed increasing polarization over the project. He said that fewer people appear willing to compromise as the approval process moves forward.

Madison also said that he considered all testimony at the meeting, but that comments of out-of-towners deserve "less weight" than comments made by his constituents.

Meanwhile, Pasadena resident Christle Balvin, who has hired by Legacy Partners to publicize its project, is "very disappointed" by "the unfair attacks" of leading opponents: "There is just so much misinformation floating around with potential to inflame the community."  Still, such negativity has not hurt the project's popular appeal, she added: "The number of people who want to move into that project is staggering."

As to the number of church members who showed up, Balvin said, "We were surprised ourselves...But we had nothing to do with bringing in outsiders.
We were delighted to see the broad support for the  project there."

March 20 Edition

Kiwi Board: According to the Australian Worldwide News for March:

The New Zealand board members met March 2 -3 in Auckland for an historic meeting to pass resolutions and sign documents establishing a new national church governing entity, the Worldwide Church of God (New Zealand) Trust.

The board members are: Les Evans (chair), Maureen MacDonald, Rex Morgan (secretary and treasurer), Dennis Richards, John Warman and David Wong. Regional Director Rod Matthews is a non-voting member [MD translation: he tells 'em what to do]

The board also used the weekend for discussion of a range of national planning issues [MD translation: "Oh crap! The money's drying up!"]

We wonder (1) who elected the board members, (2) who has authority to replace board members, (3) what channels of accountability - if any - now exist to the church membership, (4) what representative functions - if any - the new structure fulfills. While we know that several of the board members are persons of integrity, we wonder how they justify their positions in the apparent absence of any genuinely mandated leadership.

Tribulation Memoirs: What really happened in '72 when GTA was first dumped from the church's hierarchy? It was a rare year, and for those of us who weren't around at the time, it's fascinating to read an account from someone who was. Enter the indefatigable Pam Dewey, a "living treasure" in the Church of God tradition. Pam has a library of documentation at her fingertips, and formidable writing skills to boot. William Hinson's Broadway To Armageddon may be long out of print, as is Marion McNair's Armstrongism - Religion or Ripoff? David Robinson's Tangled Web may be a collectors item, along with John Tuit's The Truth Shall Make You Free. But never fear, Pam is writing the next major text on Armstrongism. And it's appearing online in installments, so it won't cost you a penny. Pam writes:

Be forewarned... it AIN'T "exciting" and it AIN'T fast-paced. It's tedious reading, including a lot of excerpts from old Herbert letters. But for history buffs, and the person who really wants to know "wha' happened!?" back in those days, it may well be interesting.

And be also forewarned that if you don't like to read unpleasant information about HWA or GTA, this AIN'T your cup o' tea.

Just a brief background... my husband George and I were members of the WCG from 1968-1978, members of the CGI from 1978-1988, George was ordained and served as a pastor in the CGI from 1980-1988, and we have been unaffiliated with any corporate org since 1988.

Memoir of the Tribulation is essential reading for anyone who wants to know how the WCG managed to end up in the present grief it's in. Part 1 covers the lead-in to the 70s fiasco. Part 2 provides some fascinating source documents on the 1971/1972 events. And there's more to come! Highly recommended.

March 19 Edition

Ambassador Agony Continues: Latest coverage from the Pasadena Star News.

Lack of data stalls staff review of Legacy project
By Elizabeth Lee
Staff Writer

PASADENA -- The City Council had planned Monday to review a schedule by which Legacy Partners' massive housing project would move through the city's entitlement process.

That would give the anxious developers and owners of the former Ambassador College campus an idea of how much longer they'll have to wait for city approval.

But, it turns out, they'll have to wait a little longer for an estimate of how long they'll have to wait.

Read the complete story

ESN - Steve's Account: In the last 24 hours we've received correspondence from both Bernard Kelly and Steve Dalton relating to events we reported March 8. Excerpts from Steve's letter are published on the mailbag page.

Grave Concerns: Passover is upon us - or is it Easter? In a seasonal broadside, new MD columnist Whistler takes the bit between his teeth and tackles the thorny issue of what "three days and three nights" really means. If you ever wondered how mainstream Christian churches justify the Friday/Sunday tradition, here's your chance to find out. 

Millennium Movies: A plug for that other site, the excellent Painful Truth. John B. has penned a outstandingly funny piece (well, it had us in stitches!)  Just in time for the Oscars!  An excerpt:

Now that the Millennium has arrived and Jesus Christ has returned to earth in Power and Glory to Establish his Kingdom -- now that the Worldwide Church of God has been placed in control of the World and its Government – Hollywood has been co-opted to produce Movies of Quality and Wholesome Entertainment!

Please support God’s Work by attending the following movies.  Enjoy these fine films that reflect the Recapture of True Values.   The Top Twelve movies are listed below.  (These films are not ranked by box-office performance or Academy Award nominations, but by a closed session of the Council of Elders at Ambassador College.)

Read the whole article

(Oops! department: Contrary to what we stated in an earlier version of this item, John B. is not a recovering WCG minister. We had him mixed up with another Painful Truth writer, John Ouvrier, who once pastored a WCG congregation in Hawaii.)

Rod of Mine Anger:  Ah, the glorious "days of old" at the West Point of God's Work. This memoir from a former student.

I was a student at Ambassador College Pasadena and Big Sandy in the late 80s. Rod was famous amongst the students for playing hard ball. He in particular used to behave ridiculously, esp. for one who was a teacher of the Bible at a Bible school, when the issue of homosexuality came up. In fact, he was notorious for his temper tantrums in lectures on this subject. Once he got so frustrated that there were people in the world who had same sex attraction issues, that in anger he kicked a plastic paper basket clear across the lecture hall into one of the side walls. Then made outrageous gestures with his hands clasping an imaginary broomstick handle stating loudly: "if they like it so much, why don't they just get a broom handle and.... (at this point he made wild up and down motions with his clenched fists wrapped around an imaginary broom handle while making jiggling sounds with his face cheeks flapping against his jaw while his head was shaking up and down). The ladies were aghast and the guys could hardly believe their eyes and ears. A few thought it was funny and in childish bravado applauded. If you were a young man or woman struggling with issues you knew you never went to Roderick C. Meredith about it lest he himself cast you into hell. Then again, as one very senior leader within WCG once told me during  a private moment on an overseas trip:  "me thinks he protesteth too much." (name provided)

British Israelism & Racism: A last minute rush of votes tipped the scales in our last poll. We asked: Is the traditional WCG British Israel doctrine racist? The affirmatives took an early lead, but when we closed it off the negatives had vaulted to the front. 113 votes were recorded. The result: Yes, 46.02%; No 50.44%; Not sure 03.54%

This week's poll asks whether the Sabbath has ongoing relevance.

March 17 Edition

More grief in Legacy Project: This item from the March 16 Pasadena Star News.

Kurtz barred from Legacy talks
Husband's job presents possible conflict
By Elizabeth Lee
Staff Writer

PASADENA -- The state Attorney General's Office has barred City Manager Cynthia Kurtz from participating in the negotiation or drafting of a development agreement with Legacy Partners, which proposes to develop the former Ambassador College campus.

In response to an inquiry initiated by Kurtz, the Attorney General's Office wrote that because her husband, Jim McDermott, works for a public relations firm retained by Legacy, she can't take part.

"I was kind of surprised by the ruling," Kurtz said. But she had not yet participated in any negotiations, in anticipation of the ruling, she said. "It's very important to make sure there's nothing that taints our process."

Irvine-based Legacy wants to build 1,700-plus housing units on the former Ambassador College campus in west Pasadena, currently owned by the Worldwide Church of God.

It's the largest single housing development in Pasadena in decades, possibly in the city's history.

Read the full story

"Hulmerous" Feast:  The Hulme sect has announced an interesting selection of Feast sites for 2002, presumably indicating the areas where the church has at least a minimal presence. They are: Cotonou, Benin; Douala, Cameroon (expected attendance approx. 90); Accra, Ghana (30), Bright VIC, Australia; Victoria, BC, Canada; Gillelege, Denmark (80); Langenargen, Germany (40); Hoilo, Philippines; Llandudno, Wales, UK; Dana Point, CA, USA; Tulsa, OK, USA; Virginia Beach, Virginia, USA (400)

The group will also have sites in Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Nigeria.

A Text for St. Patrick's Day:  From a special correspondent: 

Romans 8:31   " ...if God is for us, who can be a Guinness "
(The heavenly gift for saints and sinners)

We'll drink to that!  Thanks "Seamus."

March 14 Edition

Bernard's Letter: The following letter to the editor graces the latest edition (Wednesday March 13) of the Pasadena Star News:

Marketing Ambassador
"...we are not a greedy international corporation"  BS

Recently at a meeting before the City Council regarding the Legacy project on Ambassador campus, one of the speakers made an unfortunate inference that implied the Worldwide Church of God was being greedy in the sale of its properties.

As Treasurer and Director of Finance and Planning for the church, I wish to point out that we are not a greedy international corporation, nor even a public charity, but rather, a church. As such, we survive on donations.

Our income has dropped 85 percent from our heyday, and we have spent $26 million keeping the property up since the beginning of the sale process.

The church has shared its property with the community in numerous ways for 50 years, and we are engaged in a sale process which has as one of its major intents to preserve the various public benefits of the property.

The church has an obligation to protect the interests of its members. However, it never invested in its campus to make a profit; the sale proceeds could not possibly recover the Church's enormous investment in its property, let alone make a profit.

Some believe that price is the sole determinant of density and the church can lower the project's density if it will just lower the price. If this is true at all, it is true only within very narrow limits. More importantly, it is the market offers which determine the buyer, and the buyer's use that determines density.

If residential density is reduced to the point that the church cannot receive a fair market price for its property and Legacy cannot make a fair profit, another buyer with a different use would become the better offer and be accepted.

We appreciate and welcome thoughtful public input and discussion. But when the public understands the reality of the situation, we hope they will think use discretion and clear thinking when describing our motives and business decisions.

Bernard W. Schnippert
Worldwide Church of God

Legacy Proposal Makes LA Times: A story called Development Diplomacy in the March 13 LA Times focuses on the Ambassador redevelopment. An excerpt:

The church has issued a warning, which opponents view as a veiled threat: If the City Council fails to approve the project, the church will sell the property piecemeal to developers, resulting in potentially greater densities than those outlined by Legacy.

Starting in 1947, the Worldwide Church of God assembled the Ambassador campus from 138 properties, including several stately houses along Orange Grove Boulevard that had become dilapidated.

During the 1960s and '70s, the church built a number of college buildings, industrial facilities and the concert hall, while filling in several streets to create two large campuses on either side of the 710 Freeway spur.

At its peak in the late 1980s, Ambassador College had 1,200 students, and the church and college together had 1,000 employees. In the mid-1990s, however, the Worldwide Church of God experienced a schism brought on by doctrinal changes, and the church lost much of its membership. Ambassador College closed in 1995 as revenue fell.

"We have only 15% of the money that we generated at our height in 1989," said Bernard W. Schnippert, the church's director of finance and planning.

The Worldwide Church of God spends about $12 million annually to maintain its large complex of buildings and elaborate gardens. "Some people expect this push and pull and tug to last for another five years, but that is false," said Schnippert. "We can't sustain it."

The Original Posting: 

Greetings To the Scattered Brethren of God:

Many of you are  aware of the recent announced sale of the Ambassador College Campus and facilities located in Pasadena California to a real estate development firm for a sales price quoted to be in excess of 100 million dollars.

These facilities were purchased with monies donated and sacrificed  by several thousands of hard working individuals like yourselves, for the expressed and announced purpose of a College Campus, Auditorium and Grounds dedicated to the "Great God". To use these facilities for any other purpose is tantamount to fraud and misuse of the funds reverently donated and given for this purpose. As is quoted in Malachi 3:8, "Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings."

In response to these events,  several have been working privately behind the scenes to either block or at the least delay this unethical and evil transfer of assets to the indiscriminate use of a select few  such as Tkach and his cohorts. These individuals  were never involved in the solicitation nor dedicated named use of the offerings of the people of God for the Pasadena facilities. A growing group of brethren  known privately as the "Underground Church of God" is responding to this immoral and unethical transfer of assets. The "Underground Church of God" is composed  of non -ordained  brethren  of nearly every current known Church of God group including Worldwide, United, Global, Philadelphia, Living, Hulme, Great God and other corporate groups , as well as many from the independent and Living Room groups.

A leading Los Angeles area law firm has been hired on retainer, and will
soon announce a "Lis Pendens" a legal maneuver to temporarily block the impending sale by proclaiming a "Cloud" on the title of the properties pending future legal outcome. In addition, a class action lawsuit will be initiated against the organization proclaiming that the Worldwide Church of God solicited these funds for the named dedicated use for the brethren of the Church of God and not for private commercial real estate development or the private financial benefit of a few corporate officers such as Tkach. All brethren who have donated to the Worldwide Church of God in the past will be invited to be participants  of the soon coming Class Action Lawsuit seeking remedy and financial restitution.

In addition a "Sit In" similar to that which occurred in January 1979 is
being organized . Possibly to coordinate in the year 2000 with the same anniversary as the original "Sit In" , brethren by the thousands will attend Pasadena Church services occupying the auditorium and other facilities and continuing in unbroken 24 hour "Religious Services" exempt from criminal trespass laws, and legal authority. Several "Underground Church of God " associates have expressed their desire to handcuff themselves to the church facilities and to be removed only by force of law. In addition to this proposed Pasadena "sit in" all of the brethren in all the Churches of God across the world will be asked to organize and participate by attending peaceably and in mass, as a sign of support,  at their  local Worldwide Church of God services. This massive flood  of attendance of current and past  dislocated former members attending their local Worldwide Church of God services in a onetime silent and peaceful gesture , will surely send a message to  Pasadena and possibly create legal doubt and  the withdrawal of any purchase offers for  the campus.

Several local and national news services have been contacted and informed and have assured us of giving full media exposure to these events as they unfold, allowing once again for the excesses and abuses of the financial structure of the Worldwide Church of God to be well known.

You can help currently by forwarding this Email to as many as possible on your current Church Of God mailing list, and asking them to do the same. In addition, post this email on any Church of God internet forums and Websites that you are aware of. This will insure that the leadership of Pasadena will be well aware that the brethren of God are not going to take this fraudulent and thieving action from them without a resistance.

Thank You!

Lussenheide Confesses: At last we can reveal that one of the "unsolved mysteries" of WCG dissent has been laid to rest. 

Back in 1999, I became frustrated with the fact that Tkach et al, was going to sell off the Pasadena campus and pocket all the change. Like many of you, as a very young man, I had dug down deep and gave to things like the "Building Fund". I decided to take some action, and unilaterally and alone, I contacted a couple of local attorneys to explore the possibility of either legally blocking, or initiating a class action lawsuit against WCG.

I was told that it was absolutely futile to pursue legal action against WCG. I was disappointed by this, and was somewhat depressed by it all. In the spirit of the cast from "Animal House", I decided to do something "absolutely meaningless and futile" to express my dashed hopes. This expression of futility manifested itself at 2 in the morning, at this computer , in the spring of 1999 with me in my bathrobe and underwear.

Orson Wells created a mass hysteria with his famous "War of the Worlds" broadcast in the late 1930s, which was a live news coverage of a fictional invasion from Mars. Incredibly, millions of people believed the broadcast was actually real!  In my bitterness, I was willing to bet that I could do the same to the WCG crowd, and that my mad ramblings might actually reach to Tkach himself. Perhaps I could even get Tkach to worry a bit, and become a bit paranoid too. So with this bad motivation in my heart, I launched my plan to play a tremendous HOAX on Tkach and the WCG. Amazingly, I succeeded beyond my wildest imaginings.

I decided to create an "ersatz" movement called the "Underground Church of God", which was going to launch protests, do lawsuits, and block the AC sale. I posted my manifesto on the various forums, and peppered it with a few legitimate legal terms to add legitimacy , that I remembered from my college classes in Business Law.

To my amazement, the manifesto circulated far and wide. Before I knew it, it was on the UCG elders forum, it was ran in the Ambassador Report, it was posted on many websites and it took on a life of its own. It actually came to Tkachs attention, who replied that "this group is composed of disgruntled former members and they will not succeed , etc" . (I had to really laugh at his official response to this, an imaginary movement  by some guy in a bathrobe in Menifee!).

Ron Dart, and other ministries issued statements of interest , but official non involvement. I actually had intended to reveal the gag very early on, within a few days, but it really took on a life of its own. People wanted to believe in it so badly, that I couldn't kill it, even when I tried!

I actually tried to tell a couple of COG splinter leaders in person, that the "Underground Church of God" really was just ME, and ME alone! I was told that there actually was a movement, and they knew the leaders of it! Well, what could I do? I had created the monster, and now it had an identity and life beyond even my control! So I just decided to let it ride and run its course. I confess that I was strangely amused by it all, and the fact that even Tkach Jr. had been made concerned by it.

Today, I am confessing that I am sorry that I hoaxed WCG or anyone else in the COG. I have always been a reliable witness, and in posting to the net , I have always been 100% sincere , other than this one sophomoric gag. I tell this to you all now, because it is on my heart here at Passover season. Also, you cant all stone me, because we are past the "statute of limitations"!

I ask for your internet forgiveness
Bill Lussenheide, Menifee, CA USA

Oh dear oh dear:  From the pen of President-non-elect Joe Jr. 

It has been a while since we last communicated any specific financial information. As Ron Kelly explained in the last two issues of the Worldwide News, we do not yet have an accurate accounting of the mail donations this year. Because of the heavy volume of mail in December, our small staff got behind on the processing procedures. That resulted in a low tabulation for January. We began to pick up some ground in February, but even now, almost half way through March, we are still behind about six or seven days in mail processing.  We have brought in some additional part time help and hope to be caught up by the end of the month.

Of course we had hoped by now to be in the final stages of closing escrow on the Pasadena property.That would have allowed us to begin implementation of the new financial model by now. But alas, we are still in that “escrow purgatory” that somehow doesn’t come to an end.  One employee advanced another metaphor and suggested rather than being in “purgatory” it was more like being in "limbo." In catholic theology, everyone eventually gets out of “limbo,” but there is a long, trying process before reaching the beatific vision. By now, you have all heard that Mayor Brogaard stated this continuing sale process could take “several  months.” Other members of the City Council are requesting a time table to help complete the analysis of this project. At this moment, we don’t know when or if such a time line will be established, but obviously we hope for the best. At any rate, our Finance and Planning staff is hard at work creating a variety of different financial scenarios that take additional delays into account. 

One example is the 2002 budget the board approved last November was an “interim budget” that anticipated the close of escrow by June. It is now clearly evident that date will not be met and the board will have to consider and approve a full-year budget for the entire year 2002. The major impact will be on our reserve fund as continuing expenses are greater than donation income. For the past couple of years, we were able to “live with” those decreases because we: (1) anticipated the close of escrow sooner than later, and (2) we had the funds from the Big Sandy campus sale that kept us going for two years. Sadly, the funds from Big Sandy are now exhausted and we must keep an even closer eye on the reserve funds. That means evaluating our expenses is a very serious priority. 

We have entered the spring festival season as we honor our Lord Jesus Christ who bled and died for us. And we glorify him as we exalt in his resurrection. We pray all of you will be prayerfully anticipating the special times of worship at this joyful time of the year. These spiritual matters keep our attention focused upward and we need not worry about what happens around us in our day-to-day lives. Our prayers are with all of you as you continue your dedicated efforts to the work of the church we are privileged to serve. 

March 13 Edition

Dave's Cult:  Dave Pack's hard-line Global splinter, the Restored Church of God, has a new look on its web site. And Dave has also tarted up his member magazine, The Pillar.  Pack's "Work" is based in Wadsworth, Ohio, and Dave has been a very busy bee in recent times, rewriting screeds of Herb's booklets:

As the Elijah of Malachi 4:5-6 and Matthew 17:11, Herbert W. Armstrong was used by God to restore hundreds of truths to His Church in the 20th Century. It took many books, booklets, articles (known as reprints) and form letters to contain them. Other writers were used to help record other truths. Federal law prohibits republishing this material in its original form. The Restored Church of God is rewriting all of it.

We were so excited to hear this that we had to immediately go and sit quietly in a dark corner and practice long, deep breaths. 

Whether Dave - who, in full flight, can make even Rod Meredith look like a woolly liberal - will be able to retain the new talent he's brought in to window-dress his cloned cult is another matter. Pack has a reputation for being a not-so-loveable employer (check out our RCG page). But not to worry, Dave announces on his site: "Soon, we intend to publish a four-color, flagship magazine in the spirit of the original Plain Truth magazine."

We can hardly wait.

That Old Crooner called Ted: Some time ago we posted a link to a recording of Herb tinkling the ivories. Now we've been made aware of a recording of GTA singing "The Country I Love." It kind of chokes us up! 

March 11 Edition

Race vs. Grace: A new website has sprung up, offering a weird alternative to the UCG and WCG race relations sites. Like something from a time-trip to the 1960s, offers a traditional Armstrong perspective on things. The site boasts: Political Correctness is not a Christian attribute and is not exhibited on this site, and claims to be Preparing All of God's People in a non-politically correct environment. Perhaps it shouldn't be a surprise that one of the first options visitors get is the ability to download a copy of Herb's plagiarized rehash of J. H. Allen's Judah's Scepter and Joseph's Birthright. While the site claims no official status with any particular sect, we understand that Australian Craig White, moderator of the ultra-conservative originalwcg message board, may be responsible.

The latest issue of The Journal features an article on the UCG site. Regrettably some people apparently feel that an advocacy of toleration, equality and respect between races is a threat. It seems that one of the most perverse teachings of the old-time WCG; an abhorrence of inter-racial marriage, is still alive and kicking. 

March 10 Edition

Cincinnati Royal reports: News from the UCG heartland by a special correspondent:

1.   A bit of confusion developed in UCG the last few days.  Various reports indicated Council of Elders member Richard Thompson was moving from Atlanta to Orlando -- yet there's been NO formal announcement from Atlanta about it!  Atlanta brethren are a bit puzzled about what's going to happen.

2.   Also, thought you'd be interested in what UCG President Les McCullough wrote to young people in a recent booklet promoting United Youth Camps.  Here's a clip of it, discussing the benefits of right actions:

 ....So many good things I never dreamed of have happened to me.  I have been privileged to learn to fly my own airplane, and have owned among other cars a Porsche and two hot BMWs.  I've had ski trips in Canada and the United States.  I have hunted in South Africa and the Kodiak bear in Alaska.  I have visited over 60 nations and been around the world several times.  I have met world leaders and not only become a minister but the president of the United Church of God.  I've had excitement and fun, along with the privilege of serving God.

He's also apparently had money to burn!  Can't help wondering if it was church (aka members' tithe) money -- especially for those cars.  Maybe he's simply a good investor, but some members who can't afford even a COLD BMW might be wondering about statements like that.

Courtship Ritual: The following item was released March 8 by CEG:

COG Meeting
On Sunday and Monday, March 3 and 4, representatives from Church of the Eternal God (CEG) and the Church of God in Modesto (CGiM) met to discuss their respective doctrines and practices. Present were, for CEG, Mr. Edwin Pope, Mr. and Mrs. Norbert Link, Mr. Rene Messier and Mrs. Margaret Adair, and, for CGiM, Mr. and Mrs. Alton Billingsley, Mr. Steve LeBlanc, Mr. and Mrs. David O'Malley, Mr. Wayne Carlson, and Mr. Nathan O'Malley.

The discussions must have been really thorough and exhaustive, because the CEG representatives didn't have time to notice that the church they were negotiating with actually calls itself The Church of God, established in Modesto (cog-eim). 

The Statements of Beliefs of both groups were reviewed and further doctrinal and practical issues were discussed, including the need to do the Work of God by preaching the gospel of the Kingdom of God to the modern nations of Israel and to the rest of the world, and by feeding the flock. Both groups concluded that the meeting was very profitable, and that a genuine mutual spirit of dedication towards God's truth prevailed. Both groups felt that they are of the same doctrinal beliefs, and that they have the same goals. As a consequence, the need for further mutual cooperation was discussed.

As a first step, ministers from San Diego and Modesto will reciprocate in speaking, as soon as practical, in each other's local congregation and will be available to answer any questions that members may have.

Two days? We'd have thought there was nothing here that these two tiny Global offshoots (or is that "offshoots of offshoots") couldn't have done with a stubby pencil on the back of an envelope over a couple of beers - and still had time left over to enjoy the floor show.

March 9 Edition

Good News for Good News: Our latest poll result brings good news for the publishers of the UCG magazine Good News, but a wakeup call for the Meredith publication Tomorrow's World. MD readers gave the GN the thumbs up for effective communication. The COG7 publication The Bible Advocate and, astonishingly, the WCG's Plain Truth, also received significant support. However Tomorrow's World, produced by the Living Church of God, received fewer votes than the bizarre Philadelphia Trumpet, published by the Flurry cult.

The question asked: Which of the following COG magazines do you think is most effective? The results were: (1) Good News: 32.08%, (2) Plain Truth: 24.53%, (3) Bible Advocate: 22.64%, (4) Philadelphia Trumpet: 16.98%, (5) Tomorrow's World: 3.77%. There were 53 responses.

One magazine that might have been included in the survey is Vision, produced by the Hulme sect. This journal has an original and cleverly designed layout that goes beyond the time-honored copycat features of most COG magazines (Tomorrow's World and Good News were both names of now defunct WCG publications.)

This week's poll asks whether you agree with a recent statement by Joe Tkach when he wrote:

The Worldwide Church of God has had its own specific history with racism and race-related issues. For decades we taught a form of British-Israelism, [an] unbiblical teaching that white Anglo-Saxons are God’s specially chosen people. British-Israelism is, of course, directly counter to the clear New Testament doctrine that all of God¹s children are one, regardless of race or color (Ephesians 2:11-22; 1 Peter 2:4-10).

Is the traditional British Israel message racist? Let us know what you think.

March 8 Edition

Discord at ESN: The Exit and Support Network website has been a significant source of information on the Worldwide Church of God and the PCG. The most useful part of the site, in our opinion, has been Steve Dalton's Research Page. Now, sadly, Steve's material has been pulled from the site by the owner, an individual who we only know by the name Dee. The stated cause appears to be that Dee wishes to reposition ESN away from the investigative approach that Steve used, and more toward evangelism. It was Steve's Research Page that broke a major story by Bernard Kelly on Suzanne and Wiley Black's account of events at Ambassador College. Dee blocked the publication of further material by Kelly - this time on the WCG's divorce doctrine - on the grounds that his theology was incompatible with ESN's. This set the stage for the disagreement that led to the removal of Steve's material. 

Addendum: Dee has responded to the item above with several points of clarification. She says:

Gavin, the cause for pulling Steve's page on the ESN site was *not* due to wanting to pull ESN away from the "investigative" approach that Steve used and toward "evangelism." And the reason that I wouldn't post Bernard Kelley's three articles was not "on the grounds that his theology was incompatible with ESN's." *Nothing* could be further from the truth... The real reason was the severe criticism that I and others in the ESN received from Steve and Bernard for my not posting Bernard Kelly's three articles. Another reason for the pulling of Steve's page has been the name calling and ugliness that Steve has engaged in with me and at least one of my co-workers through email. There has been no respect regarding our emails with him as we tried to smooth things out.

I received news of the Wiley and Suzanne Black testimonies through a friend and posted them on Steve's page after both Steve and I read them. They are *still* on the ESN website, only now linked from "Articles for Survivors."

These last few months I have noticed that Steve's articles have gravitated *away* from research on the Armstrongs (the original purpose for the page). Bernard also appeared to be trying to use ESN for his own platform. I answered BK and told him that I wasn't going to post them, due not only to his massive words throughout (especially in article two and three) referring to HWA as God's "unique man," having" God's truth" and WCG being "God's original true church," but other erroneous things in the articles (including the 1974 ministerial conference) that all my co-workers (who read the articles) agreed with. BK and Steve could not let it drop, but became very angry, and BK hinted that I [was] only scanning the articles and had another agenda. *That* is the main reason the site was pulled. If anyone wants to clearly read what the purpose of the ESN website is, then they can visit the About Us page on our site. It doesn't say anything about wanting to get into "evangelism." If others want to write me, they can. 

The choice of the word "evangelism" may have been ill chosen. We're delighted that the Black testimonies are still available. ESN is carrying an article on the removal of Steve's page.

UCG News: According to the latest United News, the church's Good News magazine has reached the half million circulation mark. Much of the rest of the issue is taken up with promotional articles for the various UCG Festival sites this year. Former Ambassador students may be interested in this notice:

AC/AU Reunion Planned for Nashville in June: All former students, employees and faculty members of Ambassador College and Ambassador University are invited to attend a reunion in Nashville, Tennessee, June 22 and 23, 2002. A dinner/dance is planned for Saturday night and a picnic on Sunday. Gary Antion, former associate professor and administrator, will give the sermon Saturday afternoon and will address attendees Saturday night [MD comment: is this supposed to be a draw card?].

For more details and to RSVP, please contact Phillip or Elaine McCollum at ...

Family Ties: A new editorial has just been posted on The Missing Dimension. It places WCG in the context of its extended dysfunctional family, the Adventist movement that also spawned Seventh-day Adventism, the Branch Davidians and other groupings. And it asks whether the collapse of Armstrongism is part of a wider decline. 

March 7 Edition

Latest Dateline Pasadena report: Items about CIS and computer snooping, the PT price policy and rumors of more layoffs

Many employees on campus know and have confirmed that CIS (Computer Information Services) monitors what web sites they visit and what emails are sent and read.  Bernie is going all out to find out who Dateline Pasadena is.

The U.S. edition of the Plain Truth arrived in church members homes last week.  This issue was wrapped in a protective advertising wrap.  The covering said that church members would have to start paying a subscription in order to receive the magazine.  The WCG will no longer be giving Greg Albrecht money to publish the magazine.  Greg goes on to shame members into getting subscriptions claiming that members should be proud to be part of the ministry of PTM.  Greg continues to lay off people from Plain Truth Ministries.  This is having a direct impact on the WCG.  For some STUPID reason, WCG has given the process of mail receiving over to PTM.  They are the ones who open all the letters and count the money that people still foolishly send in. Because they do not help, the mail is stacking up in their offices.  They are sometimes over three weeks behind in opening mail. This directly has an impact on the daily receipts of the church.  Many employees from other departments are being told that they have to go and help PTM open mail.  They are getting tired of doing Greg's dirty work for him.  Plus, he gets free labor by having them assist him.

Bernie, Joe, and other Board members have been in Pasadena since last week trying to deal with the situation that is developing over the sale. and the downward spiral of church finances..  A couple of department heads said today that there is going to be another round of layoffs coming with in a week or so.  It looks like the Facilities employees will be hit once again. We wonder if Bernie will lay off any of the three employees that he has working for him.  We know that Bernie will set the example first! Right?  He has one secretary that, it's rumored, spends much of the time reading newspapers and novels. The other is a Notary of the Public, so she has to notarize the Church's documents.  Other than being the secretary to the Board (Mat's assistant) she has no other obvious function.  Bernie is not supposed to have an office on campus, since he 'claims' to be working 100% from his home in Big Bear, CA.  The IRS would likely deny his status if they knew that he had an office on campus.

March 6 Edition

Latest AC-Legacy Installment: The painful religious real estate soap opera continues.

Council ponders Legacy schedule
By Elizabeth Lee
Staff Writer

PASADENA - Despite warnings not to "rush" a decision, the City Council on Monday indicated it may establish a schedule for city review of the Ambassador College development proposal.

Read the full story on the Pasadena Star News site

Mat Morgan has written a thank you email to the WCG's Pasadena employees for turning out on Monday night. He states:

A heartfelt thank you to those who supported the Church and Legacy at the City Council Meeting on Monday evening with their prayers, from near or far, their bold and articulate comments, their applause or just their presence at the meeting.  [MD translation: "The rest of you are in deep manure!"] We are very pleased by the sincere show of support by so many. [MD translation: "Yes, we were taking names!"] We feel the meeting was a success in large part because of your prayers and physical support.  Although this is only the beginning of the Council’s public discussion of the project and we have much work ahead, we are encouraged by the show of support at the start of this public process. [MD translation: "You suckers will be wanted again, so keep your calendars clear!"]

Morgan has worn a number of hats in the WCG. Rumor has it he takes a special interest in keeping tabs on "dissident sources" (like The Missing Dimension), and reports directly to Bernie Schnippert. He is also secretary to the WCG's toothless Board of Directors.

An LCG "tribute" to Bob Devine: This item was posted on AOL.

Bob Devine, an elder in the Global Church of God in England passed away this weekend after battling cancer for about the past year.  Though I didn't always see eye-to-eye with Mr. Devine on all matters, I respected him for his dedication to God's Church.

I was shocked (but not surprised) to view Bob Thiel's comments on the passing of Bob Devine.  Rather than mourn the loss of this man and ask for prayers for his wife and family, he would prefer to use it as a propaganda device to tout the virtues of LCG.  It's examples such as this that convince me that I could never associate with this organization.  Following are Bob's "thoughts":

03/05/02 a.m. I have received 2 reports that GCG UK elder Bob Devine died (though it is not announced as CEG's website). Mr. Devine, in my opinion, became embittered against LCG because of misinformation and the fact that LCG's initial representative in the UK did NOT do what LCG wanted him to do. With his apparent passing, perhaps those in the UK will re-examine the fruits of those who took over GCG and will consider supporting the group once part of GCG which does the most to get the gospel out.

Way to go Mr. Thiel.  :-(

March 5 Edition

A Message from Mat: The following email has been passed on to MD from the excellent Dateline Pasadena source:

From: Janet Shay []
Sent: Friday, March 01, 2002 1:59 PM
Subject: Urgent Request
Importance: High

This message is from Mat Morgan: 

This is an urgent request for your help and your prayers! 

The Pasadena City Council is holding its first public workshop on the Legacy Partners plan to develop the former Ambassador College Campus.  The Council will listen to a presentation by Legacy and then take public comment on the plan.  Unfortunately, a few alarmists in West Pasadena have rallied a large group of people against the project.  We need your physical presence at the meeting to show an equal balance of support.  This is a political process where the City Council is likely to be influenced against or in favor of the project depending on visible support.

We don’t need to tell you how important a timely sale of this property is to the Church! 

Please plan to attend the meeting Monday March 4th, 8:30 p.m. in the Ballroom at the Pasadena Hilton located at 168 S. Los Robles Ave, Pasadena, CA  91001.  Parking will be available in the parking structure or on the street. Parking in the parking structure will be on a first come first served basis and will be validated.  

Please be respectful, but passionate in your support of Legacy and Church officials who will speak at the meeting.  This will be a great opportunity for you to learn more about the project, fellowship with your friends and provide much needed support. 

Thank you for your support!  Please call Mat Morgan with questions.  His telephone number is 626-304-4034.

"Coming Mat, coming... "

Kind of reminds us of the "good old days" of the receivership, when the "dumb sheep" were called out to man the barricades in a show of support for Herb and Stan.

Global leader dies: Bob Devine, pastor of the British Global Church of God, has passed away after a battle with cancer.

UCG Ponders graying of Greenbacks: From the minutes of the UCG's Council of Elders.

A survey of Feast of Tabernacles attendees in 1999 found that 70% of those attending the festival that year were (then) over the age of 45. Nearly three years later, that same percentage is now 47 or 48. Within the next 20 years, most of that group will retire, living on less income. What will be the result in financial support for the work of the Church? 

Stats: The Missing Dimension broke the 20 000 page views per month barrier for the first time in January, then again in February. On Friday 22 Feb. we pulled in the daily record of 1 054 page views. Page view figures do not include reloads. Hitbox today ranked us as number 65 on the list of religious sites they provide statistics for, and number 24 on their list of New Zealand sites serviced.

March 3 Edition

"Chuckles" at the helm: More observations on the new president of the UCG.

Roy Holladay was the Festival Coordinator for the Mount Pocono, PA feast site for several years in the mid-eighties. He always impressed me as the "Gloomy Gus" type. Unlike [the Likeminds] correspondent, I can't ever remember seeing him smile. When he and his wife were photographed at a ministerial refresher conference and the photo was published in the Worldwide News, he was smiling. When I saw the picture, I thought to myself, "Ah! He can smile!" I then repented for having sarcastic thoughts about one of God's ministers.

A friend and I ran into Roy at a regional track meet about ten years ago. We were helping out with the officiating and the scoring. For some unknown reason, Roy walked up to us. My friend enthusiastically greeted him, as he had attended the Mount Pocono feast site for several years. He told Roy how much he enjoyed Roy's leadership at the feast, and how he especially liked how Roy read the announcements. He then launched into an imitation Roy greeting the congregation. My friend is a good mimic, and the impression was flawless. I wanted to laugh, but held back because I knew my friend had committed a serious gaffe: you never make a joke at a minister's expense. Roy was not amused, and stood there, saying nothing (the pregnant silence [the Likeminds] correspondent described). My friend and I also stood there silently, not knowing what to do in this awkward situation. After a few seconds (which seemed like hours), Roy walked away. My embarrassed friend turned to me and said, "I guess I shouldn't kid around with ministers. He didn't look too happy." All I could say was, "Don't worry about it. Some people can take a joke, and some people can't. Next time you talk to him, be serious."

Hulme Gloom: It's easy to forget that the founding president of the UCG is still out there with his merry band of schismatic ministers. David Hulme left to establish The Church of God - an International Community (original name, huh?)  But according to a report on Bob Thiel's site, the merry band has experienced a spate of defections.

A former COGaic member reports, "Another minister has left David Hulme's group in the UK. This is on the heels of another pastor resigning in Australia a few months ago. The total number of elders who have left DH is 11."

March 2 Edition

Bulldoze Ambassador: Last week we asked what the fate of the campus once voted America's most beautiful should be. Here are the results.

The WCG Pasadena property should be
sold to the highest bidder
redeveloped by Legacy
bulldozed and good riddance
There were 82 responses to this poll

This week the poll asks which of the various CoG flagship magazines you think has the most credibility.

White Elephant Hall: This item from the Pasadena Star News.

Hall's value is key to Legacy-city dispute
By Elizabeth Lee
Staff Writer

PASADENA -- Few people will disagree that the Ambassador Auditorium on the former Ambassador College campus is a world-class concert hall. But is it worth $22 million? That question has been the source of much tension in negotiations between the city, Legacy Partners and the Worldwide Church of God.

The dispute surfaced publicly last week when church financial director Bernard Schnippert talked to neighbors and church members about Legacy's proposal to develop the campus. He was angry at statements made to him during a closed-door meeting with a subcommittee of the City Council, where officials discussed with him various pieces of the development proposal.

"One of the City Council members was convinced the auditorium has virtually no value," he complained. "The city's own appraisal is for $22 million ... Where are we if the city won't use its own appraisal?" The question of what the lavish concert hall is worth is key to Legacy's efforts to develop the campus into a 1,700-unit housing complex.

Legacy plans to buy the west Pasadena campus from the church for an undisclosed price and redevelop it. But the sale and the development are contingent upon the city's approval of the project. The city's planning documents call for the 1974 concert hall to be preserved. Legacy -- which doesn't want permanent ownership of the auditorium -- wants to transfer it to the city if the project is approved. But the auditorium comes with a price tag, and future homeowners in the development may be asked to pay it.

According to city staff and Legacy, a special tax district called a Community Facilities District could be established to buy the auditorium from the church, plus pay for some infrastructure improvements. A CFD must be approved by the council. It would allow the issuance of tax-exempt bonds, which would be repaid by future property owners within the development. The question is, according to some critics of the idea, how much should future homeowners be taxed to pay for the auditorium?

A city-commissioned appraisal has pegged the concert hall's value at $22 million, and Schnippert said the tax district should reflect that number, plus money for improvements. But some critics of the proposal are asking whether the $22 million estimate makes sense. "Some in the community have complained that this auditorium piece, in terms of the public financing, is really just a way that Legacy is using to underwrite its purchase of the rest of the property," said City Councilman Steve Madison, who represents District 6 where the campus is located. Considering the auditorium occupies only 5 percent of the campus's acreage, Madison said the $22 million sum seems quite large. He doubts whether $22 million represents 5 percent of the total purchase price for the entire campus. He wondered whether "the guys from Enron" came up with the CFD proposal.

But it was a city-hired appraisal firm, Lea Associates Property Economics, that came up with the $22 million estimate. The firm calculated that figure based on what it would cost to construct the auditorium today, minus depreciation, plus the market value of the land it sits on.

Schnippert, responding to the argument that the auditorium occupies only 5 percent of the campus, said it's not valid to calculate the auditorium price based on the price for the entire campus. Legacy and the church, which are in escrow, won't disclose the sale price. "I think it's a logical and mathematical fallacy," said Schnippert, adding that, for one thing, the auditorium land has a very expensive building on it that the city wants to keep. "The price of the rest of the campus is irrelevant to the transaction on the auditorium, as long as it's at the city's appraised price," he said.

Mayor Bill Bogaard, meanwhile, said the city hasn't even decided whether the CFD will include the purchase price for the auditorium. Although city staff and the developer have said the CFD would include the price tag for the auditorium, "The purposes for which the financing will be made are, as far as I'm concerned, unknown and to be determined," Bogaard said.

Critics of the development have also questioned a proposed plan to operate the auditorium once the city assumes ownership of it. Legacy's proposal is for a nonprofit foundation to take over operation of the facility, using private funds. But the foundation will need to raise a lot of money -- the church had to shut down the auditorium in 1995 because it could no longer afford to run it.

March 1 Edition

Roy to rule Roost: An announcement from the UCG College of Cardinals:

At 9:45 am on February 28, 2002 the Council of Elders elected Roy Holladay as the next president of the United Church of God, an International Association. He will assume office at the beginning of the Council of Elders meetings on May 7th.
The Council expresses appreciation to our outgoing president Mr. McCullough for a job well done. He will work with Mr. Holladay on the transition process during the next two months.

More on Roy: What kind of man is the new UCG Prez? This offering comes from a posting on the Likeminds discussion board. The writer knew Holladay personally before he left Chicago in the early 80s.

... he hopefully has changed at least some of his positions since then. However, I am closely familiar with how he has treated recent personnel and policy issues, and can see much of what I observed some 20 years ago.

What I might offer is that Roy is the 'strong-silent type'. He believes in 'pregnant silence' as he even boasted this back in graduate club as a good method of making people talk. He is very overtly calm and patient, cautiously waiting for others to reveal themselves before he even contemplates action. Notably, his recent dealings with some personnel issues was to stall by inaction until the problems went away. So, Roy is not openly confrontational, but don't let that fool you that he isn't quietly plotting and pulling strings--even Machiavellian (the Ray Wooten defrocking comes to mind).

Roy is not transparent, nor too personable--though he quietly smiles a lot in a confident manner...

We should note though that Roy is a staunch follower of the company line. I remember when one week he gave a sermon that the 144,000 would comprise all the saints that had ever lived and then openly recanted the next week when Herb had said in a member letter that the 144,000 would be those saints living at Christ's return. This is just one example of personal conviction taking a back seat to politics.

However, Roy is very convicted that the "sheeple" can't make good decisions and need a presbytery to lead them. So I would say you can count on Roy to speak a lot of smooth comforting and reconciliatory sounding words to the "sheeple" that will further set them at ease to just 'sit back, relax, and leave the driving to us'--the 'ministry'.

Roy Holiday epitomizes 'status quo' and 'establishmentarianism'. Buyer beware.

The writer obviously feels confident that his observations will hold water as he adds: "Feel free to forward this to Roy and invite him to discuss these observations. :-)"  We'd be glad to hear from any MD readers who'd like to comment on the track record and talents of the new leader.

MD Readers Pick Winner: From the "We Told You So" file. In a poll that ran earlier this month (see Feb. 18 update) MD readers identified Roy Holladay as the most likely winner in the tussle for the UCG presidency. Holladay took 34% of your votes, followed by McCullough with 28%. Luker came in 3rd with 19% and Pinelli with 14%.

February 28 Edition

Why? These questions come from a Pasadena member perplexed by Bernie Schnippert's performance at the recent public meeting.

Where was the church CEO and the Church Communications Relation person at the meeting?  Bernie did all the speaking.  Joe Jr. did not make any comments except sit down front laughing at Bernie's antics.

Bernie told the public at the meeting that a contingency plan was being formed to sell off parcels of the property into 138 land parcels.  (If Legacy's plan is denied) He then admitted that he had not shared that with the Church's Board.  Nothing like leaving those that are supposed to be in charge in the dark!.

Bernie told the public that he had to answer to the Church Board for his actions.  What he is really trying to do, it seems, is divert attention and responsibility away from himself.  If this deal falls through he can blame it on the Board and others, but he will not be held liable.   His performance as a real estate negotiator and attorney will not fall back on him, but on the Board and other church leaders.

He then went on to tell the citizens of Pasadena that he could not share the sale price of the property with WCG members because they could not be trusted to keep a secret!  Those poor stupid church members!  It will be their fault if the sale falls through!

The citizens of Pasadena only see Bernie representing the church.  The CEO is never to be seen, and if he is present, he lets Bernie do all the talking.  It is as if Joe does not care anymore.

Church members were astonished when Bernie told the citizens of Pasadena that Joe Tkach Sr. had a temper and would  blow up at people trying to convince him about the sale of the property. Joe just sat there.

Why does Bernie claim to have concerns on how the public is dealing with the sale of the property - and wants to respect those concerns - and yet calls a large part of the HQ employees "insignificant"!

At the last employee meeting, several church members showed up to listen to what was to be said.  They were shocked to hear absolutely nothing  being said to the employees about the sale of the property, what was happening with their job situation, how the retirement program was coming, or the expected date of escrow.  Instead there was a very embarrassing display - the presentation of Anniversary plaques and watches.  Someone asked, "Why is it that when 25 year plaques and watches are handed out, spouses of ministers receive them, but spouses of employees do not?"  They claimed in response that wives of ministers are 'helper's in their husbands jobs and that spouses of employees usually do not.  They then went on to award plaques and watches to Mike Feazell and his wife (who did not bother to show up - she is understood to hold the church in low regard), then they gave watches and a plaque to Monte Wolverton, and then a woman who works the switchboard at Telecom. Her husband is not an employee, so they only gave her a watch, but they invited her husband and children to come up on stage with her.  We guess that was supposed to make the husband feel better.

Many of the employees and members in Pasadena get the feeling that the church CEO (Joe), the CFO (Bernie), the church attorney (Bernie), the church real estate agent (Bernie) no longer care.  Especially since Joe only shows up to work three days out of the week.  Presumably he would rather play golf that rescue a sinking ship.  Bernie shows up in Pasadena on Wednesdays, stays overnight in the church apartments and then goes home on Thursdays.

The Church Administration director is frequently gone and does not come to work several days a week.  But you see, they all have reasons, they all bought homes too far from Pasadena to commute in every day.  If the ship sinks, they all have new homes, new vehicles and a guaranteed income from the church as long as they and their spouses are alive.

It seems there aren't a lot of happy campers at HQ these days. It's difficult to give your all for an organization that has double standards, inept leadership, and an apparent contempt for its own people. More-so when that organization presumes to call itself "Christian." 

A number of questions were submitted for the employee meeting. They were not answered.  They included:

Employees have not received any pay increases for the extra jobs they have been doing.  Will these people receive any kind of compensation?

Since the church is near the close of escrow, the retirement program must (as previously stated) be ready and just waiting for the ok.  Please give details of the retirement program and how it will work.

Why is it, that whenever employees send in honest inquiring questions, those answering them have to first make fun of them from the stage? 

Fair questions. So why the deafening silence?

Bernie's backfire: from Dateline Pasadena

The Auditorium meeting has backfired horribly... Bernie claimed to have mailed out 5,000 invitations to last weeks meeting. No one other than three or four people that night said they received them. The invitations started arriving in peoples mail boxes today without postal mark cancellations on them.  That has made people suspicious.

Last night's (Monday) meeting at City Hall has placed huge concerns on Legacy and WCG.  No one was expecting that large a number to show up. There was a plan to pad the audience with church members and employees.  Over 300 people showed up.  Many had large picket signs and were very vocal in opposition to the property development.  Because so many showed up they have now moved the meeting to another location that will allow for larger numbers. The Mayor has said that this process will continue on for as long as it takes. It was originally slated for three sessions. This has WCG executives in a fit right now.  Legacy is quite concerned and has stopped all consultants from doing any more work on the property. Several people got up and left during the presentation, vocally protesting that they did not come to hear a sermon. Neighbors' concerns have been stirred up rather than soothed.

February 27 Edition

Legacy meeting swamped: According to the latest Pasadena Star News, a scheduled meeting in the council chambers to discuss the Legacy proposal was abandoned due to the numbers of concerned citizens - more than 300 - wanting to participate.

About 200 people packed council chambers, more than twice the room's capacity, and at least 100 more stood outside, prompting officials to delay the discussion until they could find a larger venue.

In view of the chaos the meeting has been rescheduled. Thanks to Dateline Pasadena for drawing this report to our attention.

Retiring the WCG way: "Retirement funds" doesn't actually mean what most people might assume, at least not in Joe Jr's Worldwide Church of God. Former employees are paid from "discretionary funds". This posting from the JLF Forum.

We are now aware that some full-time pastors who have been laid-off and are being given 1 week of "discretionary funds" for each year they've worked. We are also aware that some full-time pastors' salaries have been cut in half with no additional "discretionary funds". Not all situations are being handled in the same way across the board, and most of the full-timers who have been laid-off knew approximately one year in advance this was going to happen...

Of course, most of these guys are still collecting their "discretionary funds", knowing full well that at Bernie's and/or Joe's discretion, their funds could get cut off at any time.

The Redemption of Harry Potter: Garner Ted Armstrong froths at the mouth at the very mention of his name, he's caused the LCG to spit the dummy, and even the mild-mannered UCG has issued cautionary words. The cause? J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter character (and the film he's inspired). For those of us beyond the borders of the "Bible belt" it's all a bit of a mystery really. Perhaps it's a lingering aftertaste of Salem brine in the bloodstream that causes this kind of paranoia. In any case, the February edition of the British Worldwide News contains the only balanced article we've seen on "young Harry" from a CoG perspective. Written by Ian Woodley, WCG pastor in Cambridge and Peterborough, the article states:

... some object to Harry Potter because he uses magic, sometimes wrongly. If we censure these books on this basis, we must be consistent. The Chronicles of Narnia, an allegory of the gospel by C. S. Lewis, widely approved in Christian circles, should also be banned. The Lord of the Rings, recently voted the greatest work of fiction of the 20th Century, would also go. So too should Star Wars, because "Jedi knight" is just a modern phrase which really means "magician". And let's not even get started on the works of Enid Blyton! Children can quickly see through inconsistent arguments, so we must ensure a balanced approach...

The great theme in J. K. Rowling's books is the battle between good and evil. As Luke Skywalker (Star Wars) or Frodo Baggins (Lord of the Rings), Harry unwittingly finds himself in the middle of this battle... Harry rejects the path of wickedness, and good triumphs over evil... if children learn to distinguish fact from fantasy early in their reading careers, then they will treat Harry Potter for what he is: just another fictional character, along with Biggles, Superman, Dan Dare and Luke Skywalker. And the books for what they are: a good yarn tailored to capture the interest of modern children.

The British WN for February is online (in PDF format) at  

February 25 Edition

Quotable Quote: In his latest online column at (the ACD site) Brian Knowles recollects chatting with Herb.

Once, Herbert W. Armstrong said to me, "Brian, I have reserved to myself the setting of ALL doctrine." On another occasion he said, "I guess I am a sort of a pope, aren’t I?" I remained mute.

Which is probably why Herb became the man he did: no-one was willing to call his bluff and tell him to his face what they really thought. The column, the latest in the Out of the Box series, is called Approaching Burnout.

Talking about Ted: The recent poll on GTA has sparked some lively discussion on the Likeminds forum. This posting was forwarded to us.

I have before me a personal letter to me from GTA dated March 7, 1996. It is in response to a phone conversation with GTA and follow-up letter I sent to him. An excerpt from this letter without comment:

The letter states

"Please do not think I am desperately trying to "hang on" to some office or some position. I am not. I have begged the Board and those in control here to simply let me go! I have begged to be given some kind of a retirement package, and to simply let me go live somewhere quietly as a private citizen.

They have continually refused my heartfelt request, and have pointed to so many things, not the least of which is the massive amount of mail we receive begging me not to quit, and have told me that they would be very concerned as to whether there would even be a "work" called the Church of God, International, in another two or three years if I were to simply fade away."

Now, let's see. Is that the way it all panned out after the final dustup? Ted was given just such an opportunity shortly afterwards. Proving once again the Armstrong flair for "spin".

UCG Agenda: The United Church of God has released the agenda for its upcoming Council of Elders meeting. 

February 23 Edition

Schnippert's deft diplomacy : These comments from Dateline Pasadena.

Bernie said [at the Thursday meeting in the Auditorium] that over 99 different groups had made offers fro the property. He mentioned that a Muslim organization was interested and that the Church of Scientology was interested and had actually made an offer.  He then confessed that he had to make an apology to the Church of Scientology because they were REALLY pissed that he had let Legacy Partners become the property buyers.  Here in Los Angeles, you do not mess with the Church of Scientology.  They sue people... and WIN 9 times out of 10.

Bernie also mentioned that the Christian group that bought Big Sandy had also wanted the Pasadena property.  Bernie claimed that they were unfit to have the Pasadena property.  He made fun of them by claiming that people would be seen running around the campus in Army fatigues.  I am sure that the Big Sandy folks would appreciate hearing that since the service that they offer is Disaster Relief.

Bernie also made a comment about a previous article that claimed that there were 150 employees left on campus.  He took a direct slam against the Facilities employees by claiming that the number was actually half that and that it was composed of insignificant Facilities employees.  Needless to say, the folks in Facilities were not to happy about Berne's out of line comment.  

Alas Poor Ted: The results are in on our latest survey.

How do you see GTA 25 years after being dumped from WCG?
a victim of his overbearing father
a serial adulterer
a professional repenter
an embittered reprobate
all of the above
a fallible man who is being used by God
There were 85 responses to this poll

This week we’re asking your opinion (and let’s face it, this is more than the WCG has bothered to do!) about the fate of the Ambassador campus. Should it be sold to the highest bidder regardless (the Church of Scientology has been mentioned), be redeveloped by Legacy, or just bulldozed and be damned?

Whistler’s Tune: In a new move for The Missing Dimension, we’re introducing our first columnist to the site. Whistler has a dry sense of humor and a commitment to the new covenant perspective. You may not always agree with him, but can you afford to ignore him? Whistler’s Tune this month looks at a long overlooked aspect of the biblical Feast of Tabernacles.

All hands to Word Processors: Even aging Plain Truth writers are joining the fray to push through the Legacy development. Long-standing PT writer Paul Kroll is one of the few who has made the transition to the bizarre blend of cultism and evangelicalism espoused by Czar Joey. Kroll fired off a letter to the Pasadena Star News last week attempting to assure residents that there wouldn’t be "two years of unbearable construction noise and disruption for the South Orange Grove community".

Ron’s Roost: Ronald Kelly is getting used to cushioning the bleak news in his monthly WN column. In the March edition, just released, he says:

As we close the books on January, we have received just more than $901,000 in donations. We have also received about $252,000 from all other sources, making a monthly total of $1.153 million.

The bad news is comparing statistics with last year. When we do, total income is down a significant 28 percent. However, keeping in mind that we will be processing much of the January donations in February, our overall picture should improve as we catch up. In fact, some of our other staff members are training to process the mail so we can do a little better during our heavy workload weeks… I wish we could predict when escrow will close on the Pasadena property, but that remains an elusive date. City hearings and public input continue on a regular basis. But it seems each expressed concern delays the project. At any rate, we don’t hold out much hope to close escrow before summer. And it could stretch out even longer. So please hang in there with us.

Our advice is, of course, a little different. Let Ron and the HQ team hang by themselves.

"Here Comes Santa Claus": Here’s a picture we never expected to see in the WN. These good folks from Austin, Texas, are members of the Family Christian Fellowship (the Austin WCG congregation) participating in their first-ever Christmas caroling event.

"Singing three or four songs at each stop, the group made its way through several streets spreading the message of Jesus’ birth and God’s love. Many people responded by stepping outside their homes to listen, smile, applaud and offer thanks… Some of the children caroling with the group would give listeners holiday gifts such as pencils with a holiday message, a free Jesus video and candy for the children. A card giving information about the congregation was handed out as well."

Well, it makes a change from giving away overpriced-crystal artworks to foreign dictators!

February 22 Edition 

Bernie Jollies 150 Pasadena Cynics: A further update from the Pasadena Star News.

Church makes pitch for project: Property owners urge residents to back plan
By Elizabeth Lee
Staff Writer

PASADENA -- In a two-hour speech punctuated by homilies, jokes and ultimatums, the financial director of the Worldwide Church of God tried to persuade local residents Thursday to embrace development plans for the former Ambassador College campus.

Bernard Schnippert, the church's treasurer and director of finance and planning, spoke to about 150 residents in the Ambassador Auditorium. He told residents that Legacy Partners' plans to build 1,700-plus housing units on the 49-acre property -- which is currently owned by the church -- are the best option for the community.

If City Hall or the neighbors should put a stop to the deal, he said over and over, the church will be forced to sell the property to a user like a state-run university or religious institution that will not be as sensitive to the neighbors' concerns. "We love this campus, but we've got to sell it," he told the audience, saying the church can no longer afford to keep it up. "If you had spent $26 million keeping this campus up since 1996 ... and if the deal ever did go south, what would you do?" Schnippert asked. "I don't like the options."

Drawing boxes on a chalkboard onstage, Schnippert ran down some of the alternatives -- uses proposed by other potential buyers -- such as a university or college with 10,000 to 30,000 students; or a religious institution that he said would be exempt from many of the city's land use laws.

But one audience member later told him he had forgotten one alternative: a less dense housing development with fewer units. "There can be another box up there -- Legacy with 1,200 units," he said. "No, there can't," said Schnippert, who spent part of the evening telling the audience he had a fiduciary duty to get the best price he could for the property.

Although the church mailed out about 5,000 invitations to residents to attend the presentation, Schnippert told the audience he suspected very few of them got delivered. As a result, only about 150 people showed up. Schnippert managed to keep virtually all of them, however, until the end of his lengthy presentation.

Some of the things he told the audience:

The church has applied for a permit from the city to put a fence around the property. He said later the fence could go up in as little as a month depending on city approval.

The church needs to sell the campus largely so it can pay the pensions of retired church workers, Schnippert said. He said most of them make under $25,000 a year in retirement.

The church has received 99 written offers on the property, either for part of it or all of it.

Schnippert revealed details of a closed-door discussion that he and Legacy officials had with a three-member City Council subcommittee. The subcommittee includes Steve Madison, Joyce Streator and Mayor Bill Bogaard.

"One of the City Council members is convinced the auditorium has virtually no value," Schnippert said. "(But) the city's own appraisal is for $22 million."

Some critics of the deal have questioned whether the auditorium could ever sell for $22 million if it were put up for sale by itself, because its relatively small size as a concert venue guarantees that it will operate on a deficit.

One audience member asked Schnippert what Legacy is paying the church for the property, but Schnippert wouldn't disclose it. "I will tell you the numbers you've heard are incorrect. It is not $100 million. It is not $250 million. I wish it was."

Legacy Proposal in Jeopardy: This earlier item from the Pasadena Star News.

Breakdown in talks threatens project
By Elizabeth Lee
Staff Writer

PASADENA -- Legacy Partners' development proposal for the former Ambassador College campus has been stalled for months in secret talks with city officials, and now the developer claims the proposal could fall apart. Legacy, which needs the City Council's approval to build the massive housing project, is locked into a disagreement with council members over the use of a special tax district to finance part of the development.

There has been "a serious setback in discussions with regard to the Community Facilities District," Legacy Project Manager Jack Dangelo said. As a result, Legacy has ordered most of its consultants to stop technical work on the plans, according to Vice President Bill Shubin. Legacy already has sunk millions of dollars into planning and lobbying for the project, the company has said.

"We think this is so serious we have asked some of our consultants to stop work. If we reach an impasse, there's no sense spending a lot of money that we're never going to get back," Shubin said.

Few details are available on the closed-door talks, but Shubin said one subject the two parties disagree on is which of the project's infrastructure improvements will be paid for by the Community Facilities District. He said he didn't think it was "appropriate" for him to discuss specifics in the newspaper, but council members "want to limit what gets included in it." Legacy, he said, is having difficulty coming up with other ways to finance the improvements if they can't be paid for through the CFD. "It could break the deal," Shubin said.

The uncertain fate of Legacy's proposal has prompted the property owner, the Worldwide Church of God, to hold a meeting for the neighbors in which church leaders will argue in favor of the development. The meeting will take place at 7 p.m. today at the Ambassador Auditorium, 300 W. Green St. Church officials, who have been in escrow to sell the property to Legacy for more than two years, say upkeep on the campus is draining their budget. One church official is frustrated because he feels the Legacy plan is a lot more sensitive to the neighborhood than other proposals they've received.

In previous discussions with the public and reporters, Legacy representatives have said that a Muslim group and the Church of Scientology were potential buyers. But church financial director Bernard Schnippert refused to identify potential buyers in an interview Wednesday. "We just want to show (neighbors) what the proposals were we received on the campus, what kind of buyers could buy the campus under the existing laws. Once they see that, I think, they will embrace the proposal as the best use of the property for the community," he said.

"We're very liquid; there's no chance of us going into bankruptcy," Schnippert said of the church's multimillion-dollar budget. "But neither can we, in good faith, (continue to) spend the church's money to maintain a public park."

Schnippert said the meeting isn't meant to threaten or bluff the community, but one development critic said that's exactly what the church will try to do. "My guess is, they're going to try to convince the community that the devil they know is better than the devil they don't," said Vince Farhat, president of the West Pasadena Residents Association. "But that's no way to entitle a project. It should stand on its own merits."

Farhat doubted that Legacy would really abandon its development plans, as officials claim they could. "I find it very hard to believe Legacy's going to walk away from its investment," he said. Irvine-based Legacy has proposed more than 1,700 housing units on the property, which consists of a 35-acre west Pasadena campus and a 14-acre parcel in Old Pasadena.

Worldwide Church of God, the evangelical Christian empire that made the campus its headquarters, is rumored to be selling the property for $100 million or more. Officials won't disclose the sale price.

The developer wants to pay for a large portion of the purchase price using the proceeds from tax-exempt bonds. The bonds would be repaid by residents of a Community Facilities District, including only development property owners, who would pay a special tax. A CFD is also known as a Mello-Roos district after the authors of the state legislation allowing them.

The CFD would pay for the acquisition of the Ambassador Auditorium, the lavish concert hall built by the church, as well as other infrastructure improvements. In an interview in November, city Project Planner Brian League estimated the CFD bonds would yield "somewhere around $30 million," including the purchase price for the auditorium and some off-site improvements. The auditorium was valued at $22.5 million in one appraisal, but other types of appraisals yield lower estimates because there is a very limited market for such properties.

Mayor Bill Bogaard and council members Steve Madison and Joyce Streator, reportedly the members of an informal council subcommittee that has met with Legacy and church officials, did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Radio/TV Churches of God: Bob Thiel has been busy counting broadcast outlets for various Armstrong-derivative groups.

The following is a listing of COG's who have a radio and/or tv presence.

UCG's website reports, "The Good News Radio Program is airing in 9 media markets." (There are also a couple of semi-independent media programs produced and on a few other stations [including Don Ward's World News and Prophecy and The World Tomorrow on Manx Radio]).

PCG's Philadelphia Trumpet (Feb 2002 edition) lists 26 television stations which carry its Key of David program.

CGI's website lists that its Armor of God program is on 48 television stations and 2 radio stations.

GTAEA's website lists that its program is on 30 television stations and 6 radio stations.

CEM's Born to Win program appears to be on 104 different radio stations (its listing, like PCG's lists stations multiple times and is a bit harder to count).

LCG reports that its Tomorrow's World program is on 140 television stations and 9 radio stations.

I have tried to be comprehensive, but only counted each station one time (even if it can be seen in multiple areas or is on multiple times)

In addition there's a plethora of broadcasts by minor groups that air on small stations, such as the Wholeworld Church of God's "The Unshakeable Kingdom" (See Feb. 1 Edition). How effective all these broadcasts are is another matter entirely. 

February 18 Edition

Flower Power: The Pasadena Star News has carried a story on the church's refusal to continue the tradition of planting flowers along Orange Grove and Green [see The WCG "says it with flowers", Feb. 15]. The article by Charles Cherniss deals gently with the church, finding it not to blame. Perhaps, as our Dateline Pasadena correspondent notes, "the writer would be shocked to know that the money had been approved by the Church to plant the flower bed. But that Bernie decided not to let them, in order to make the property start looking bad, so that people would stop delaying the sale." Cherniss states:

Despite accolades and admiration from Pasadena Beautiful and all who pass by, the death of this extraordinary landmark garden seems to have escaped the notice of preservationists. Answers to the question are simple.  The flowers will not return until the Worldwide Church of God is able to sell the property. Replanting, sodding or merely leaving the dirt barren, as it currently is, will be up to the new owners - whoever they turn out to be.

Sad, ugly situation, but we no longer can place the blame on the church of the college.  Blame belongs to City Hall and a balky neighborhood association. Victory sometimes comes through delay in these matters.  Toss in some council folk who have aided and abetted - by omission or commission - many delays in the sale and development of the property...

All that's left on the 48 acres site in Pasadena are remnants of the operations of the Worldwide Church of God. As I understand it, only about 150 employees are still there.  Half of those are landscapers and gardeners with the task of keeping the property up. They used to care for the flowers on the corner of Orange Grove and Green. No longer.

After laying out $4 million a year on campus maintenance for more than three years awaiting the close of escrow, the church now feels it no longer can afford to do everything. The wilting of that bed of flowers is among the needed cutbacks.   No new plantings until the sale is consummated.

Legacy Partners, a quality developer with a high quality plan, has made a good offer on the sale of the property.

Is it just our imagination, or does the writer seem to be something of an advocate or apologist for Legacy?

Poll Results: MD readers are as confused as everyone else when it comes to predicting the outcome of the UCG's selection by its college of cardinals. Whereas the Vatican signals its sole choice to the waiting throngs below in St Peter's Square with a puff of smoke, the conclave of elders may determine on a face saving  "joint presidency" according to some pundits. Who knows? More to the point, does anybody really care?

Who is your best guess as next UCG President?
Les McCullough
Richard Pinelli
Roy Holladay
Clyde Kilough
Dennis Luker
There were 78 responses to this poll

The new poll asks what readers make of Garner Ted Armstrong nearly a quarter century after his ousting from the Hall of Administration in Pasadena.

February 15 Edition

Slash 'n "Bern" III: From Dateline Pasadena: "The meeting that Bernie [Schnippert] has set up to tell the public to stop hassling the escrow process has been rescheduled to Thursday, Feb. 21 at 7:00 pm in the Ambassador Auditorium.

"Bernie and crew are also reported to be getting ready to terminate more employees in Pasadena.  By terminating employees now, they seem to feel that they do not have to pay the extra severance that they PROMISED last year and that they do not need to place any of these people on the retirement program (if it ever comes to fruition).  They also are believed to be making plans to not take on any of those already laid off into the retirement program... how long will the church members put up with this guy?"

Note: We invite Mr. Schnippert to confirm or deny this report. Specifically, whether terminated employees will lose promised severance pay. Whether employees who have been (or are about to be) terminated will be excluded from any retirement program. Whether he, or the church, feels any moral obligation to honor assurances previously given. 

Art Docken's Demolition Drive: From Dateline Pasadena: This was in today's Pasadena Star News Letters To The Editor.  Art Docken used to be a minister of WCG...

Raze Auditorium

The City of Pasadena is hesitant to accept the Ambassador Auditorium as a gift.  They are quite right.  Members of the Worldwide Church of God contributed to the building and maintenance of Ambassador College and the Ambassador Auditorium.  Both were dedicated to the great God.

The finest artists in the world were seen on the auditorium stage as examples of the tremendous potential of the human spirit.  We members were willing to finance this contribution to the cultural community of Southern California even though those efforts were generally met with ridicule and insults by local officials and news media.  The auditorium has served its purpose. It is time for the church administration team to act responsibly and remove it from the face of the earth.

I speak for many members of the Worldwide Church of God when I ask that Ambassador Auditorium not be given away but demolished.  Its beauty and all
that it stood for will remain in the hearts and memories of those who worked there, loved and appreciated the auditorium and Ambassador College.  The
college is gone.  Let the auditorium disappear too.

Art Docken

The WCG "says it with flowers": The Worldwide Church of God has apparently decided to deliver a two-fingered salute to the City of Pasadena with a floral-free flourish. This report also comes from Dateline Pasadena.

Earlier this week we understand Pasadena HQ was contemplating setting the fence up around the property that is used for the Rose Parade.  This would prohibit the public from having access.  It has been put on hold right now, because it would cost a licensing fee from the city and there are concerns about Fire Department access. They have, however, stopped planting the flower bed on Orange Grove and Green Street as a sign to the community that the church no longer cares if the public appreciates the flowers or not.  In the past the public has responded vocally if the beds are not planted. Management wants the public to look at a brown mound of dirt for a while.

Falwell Folly: What pride must suffuse the Pastor General of the WCG, the third in an unbroken line of spiritual king-emperors beginning with Herb Armstrong, to know that his South-Central District Superintendent, Randy Bloom, has just received a Master of Divinity degree from prestigious Liberty University, academic fiefdom of Jerry Falwell, arch-nemesis of teletubbies everywhere. We can't think of a finer seat of learning, unless of course, Randy had chosen Bob Jones University.

February 11 Edition

CEG cracks: The Church of the Eternal God has announced as follows:

ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE MINISTRY OF CEG: We regret to inform you that Mr. Warren Zehrung is no longer serving as a minister of CEG, nor as an employee, Officer or Director of the Church.

Keeping up with the various CoG groups with "Eternal" in their title is getting more difficult. There's CEG -,  the late Raymond Cole's Church of God the Eternal -, and Art Braidic's Eternal Church of God - The latter site has had a recent makeover, including yet another variation on the lion and lamb design. The WCG seems to have stolen its "original" seal from the version of "The Peaceable Kingdom" used by the Reorganized Mormons (RLDS/Community of Christ) in Independence, Missouri. 

Aussie WCG sounds Retreat: The latest Australian edition of the Worldwide News notes "a continuing decline in donation income... some of the church's central administrative services must be immediately reduced in order to be within available income..."

UCG Race Relations site: The Race Relations Office of the UCG has had another attempt at getting its web site off the ground. Last time the screams and gibbering of the racist wing of the sect (abetted by critics in some of the more hard-line cults) saw the site withdrawn. Already there have been mutterings from the same people that this latest effort is just a watered down version which is still extremely radical and unbiblical. Not surprisingly, these same folk are among the most ardent defenders of the brain-dead doctrine of British Israelism. We'd like to congratulate the UCG on following through with this initiative despite the opposition.

Becker on WCG ministerial incompetence: Douglas Becker has produced a provocative article on Mental Illness and the WCG. It contains some information that, to the best of our knowledge, hasn't been published on the web before. 

February 9 Edition

CGI on Islam: We're not convinced Vance Stinson and his colleagues in the Church of God, International know anything much about Christianity, let alone other religions. But that hasn't stopped Vance from putting together an hour long monolog on Islam. Surprisingly, Stinson presents a reasonably balanced view - compared at least to the paranoid xenophobia recently displayed by Amarillo, Texas Ayatollah Jeff Booth and others. Liberal Christians and followers of The Jesus Seminar, however, should be warned that Stinson's enlightenment comes at the cost of their treatment as a "whipping boy". This is a real audio file.

Toxic Faith: One book that has attracted attention in Church of God circles lately is Toxic Faith by Stephen Arterburn & Jack Felton. Brian Knowles has posted a review on the ACD site.

Another book which we believe to be helpful is The New Believers by David V. Barrett. This British publication - which features a major section on the Worldwide Church of God - is now available again through Amazon. Our review has more information.

Ron Wallen: Former WCG minister Ron Wallen, the leader of a small group of ex-members based in Mississippi, has died of an apparent stroke. His ministry did not have a formal name (however, members still consider themselves part of the Worldwide Church of God.) They had two Feast sites last year.

February 8 Edition

UCG Presidential Pageant: Roy Holladay, UCG Council Chairman and presidential candidate has issued another letter preparing the brethren for the big non-vote. Going to the wire are Roy himself, incumbent Les McCullough, Richard Pinelli, Dennis Luker and Clyde Kilough. Roy - hardly an impartial observer - is at pains to point out just how well the process is going, and how open the procedures are. Were we to be cynical (perish the thought!) we'd regard that as a sure sign that there was already blood on the floor.

So who's got the inside running? Who do you expect to see fronting the denomination in the near future? Whose posterior do you anticipate will be parked on the Cincinnati throne? Check out the latest poll.

Slash 'n "Bern" II: (report from Anne via JLF): In a recent speech the mayor of Pasadena made mention of the obvious hardening of positions between the residents and Legacy/WCG. The West Pasadena Resident's Association wrote a letter to the editor of the local paper on January 27:

In recent back-to-back articles, the Star-News reported on Legacy Partners' proposal to develop a 1,727-unit housing development on the Ambassador College property. The West Pasadena Residents Association agrees with the Star-News' Jan. 23 editorial that the Legacy Project is a "massive housing project." In fact, the Legacy Project is so big that it would increase the number of households in the WPRA service area by more than 40 percent.

The WPRA also agrees with the Star-News that change is inevitable and that "the Ambassador College property won't lie fallow forever." The WPRA supports balanced and thoughtful development in Pasadena, and recognizes that the Ambassador College property will eventually be developed. That's why we wholeheartedly agree with the Star-News that it is absolutely crucial for the three key players -- the city, the neighbors and the developer -- to "stay at the table" to try to negotiate a project that will meet Pasadena's needs without unduly burdening our neighborhoods.

The Star-News' editorial also warns readers that "far, far worse developers wait in the wings if Legacy walks away." The WPRA has heard this argument before, particularly from the developer. But some Star-News readers might misconstrue this statement as an attempt to scare residents into accepting an otherwise flawed project. We think most people in Pasadena would agree that Legacy Partners' "massive housing project" should be judged on its own merits, not on mere speculation or conjecture of what might happen...

February 7 Edition

Slash 'n "Bern": This report from Dateline Pasadena

This coming Friday, Bernie [Schnippert] has set up a meeting with the Mayor of Pasadena. He is expected to tell them that if the City does not give approval that the church will find another buyer REAL fast and tear everything down.  Then on Feb 28th he is having a meeting in the Ambassador Auditorium to tell the same thing to the community.  Legacy is also supposed to be a part of this meeting.

If the sale continues to be delayed the church will be in serious financial difficulty.  The church is running a deficit right now and they admit it (well, though not in the WN).

The financial situation is not pretty.  The members are wondering if things are so bad why they still continue to fund Greg Albrecht's white elephant, the Plain Truth.  The church is still paying all the salaries of the employees, pays their health insurance and vacation. And in spite of all this Greg still cannot make the PT self sufficient.

February 6 Edition

Sect leader Jacques Robidoux

The Attleboro Sect: The name Robidoux sometimes still surfaces when WCG splinter groups are discussed. Roland Robidoux left the Worldwide Church of God in 1976. Over the years it has transformed into a bizarre mind-control cult. 

Driving to Mass in North Attleboro one Sunday morning in the early 1970s, Joseph Roland Robidoux, a door-to-door salesman and lifelong Catholic, turned on his car radio and unknowingly changed his life.

Crackling over the AM band came a message from Herbert W. Armstrong's Radio Church of God, beckoning listeners to worship in his church, the one true religion, where believers actually lived what they preached.

That was the beginning, Robidoux would tell his children years later - a glorious example of how everything happens for a reason. It would take years for the full transformation to take place, before he would isolate his family and followers to the point that they burned photo albums, shunned eyeglasses, stopped cutting their hair, and relied exclusively on prayer for everything from healing the sick to bringing gasoline for empty tanks. It would be decades before the sect he created to reach a higher ground would crash in a tangle of murder charges, before two of his grandsons were dead, including one who allegedly starved to death three days before his first birthday...

Unlike more recent splinter groups, the Attleboro sect (also known as "the Body") makes no effort to attract new members, and has sunk below the "radar level" of most WCG watchers. Despite this the group is still around, and is widely regarded as extremely dangerous. Those interested might like to check out A Brief History of "The Body" (produced for the New England Institute of Religious Research) and the material on The Apologetics Index.

Utah madness: The Henson cult's Utah exodus continues to cause grave concerns. The following message was posted recently to the COW board.

Please pray that God helps some of our brethren who are planning to move to Kenab [Kanab?], Utah, to make the right decisions for their families. There has been 2 families from our group who sold their homes, needless to say a lot of their personal belongings, took their children out of school and have moved to Utah.

I know that there is a lot of speculation about this being the place of safety. My husband is talking about this more frequently all the time, I'm not sure what will happen, but I need your prayers. I don't want to uproot my children and move so far away. How will we support ourselves? What money we can raise won't last long?

This is not a kidding matter it is reality. Probably if my husband knew I was talking on this forum he would have the computer taken out of our home. I wish I could find the freedom that so many of you have found. I don't even know where to start, I am just really in a bad situation. Please pray for us and others.

Tucson interment: We were deeply honored today to receive the following communication directly from God's Apostle:

Graveyard Church of God

Temporary Headquarters Crypt

Tucson, Arizona  69666

February 5, 2002

Greetings Friends,

In an UNDERTAKING of mind-boggling magnitude, the Work is faced with RECEIVERSHIP... AGAIN!!! Instead of a State Attorney General, the organizational CONTROL of has been put under the direction of The Painful Truth, a SATAN-INSPIRED hate site. The Editor and the contributors have a GOVERNMENT PROBLEM. They are in REBELLION by undermining God's sole representative on this Earth: ME!!!

The Painful Truth can take over the site, but it cannot TAKE OVER THE WORK!!! Due to this turn of events, GOD HAS INSPIRED ME to have my Steuben-Crystal casket MOVED from Altadena to Tucson, Arizona. Tucson is much more arid than Altadena and will make it harder for the Work to continue to DECOMPOSE at 30% a year, but SATAN-LED receivership cannot stop the Work!!!

This attack has put us in a financial bind. TAKE OUT A LOAN and send ALL tithes, offerings and tithe of tithes to me here in Tucson rather than the empty crypt in Altadena. Continue to visit and its redirect to The Painful Truth. DO NOT READ ANYTHING ON THAT SITE. Go directly to The Graveyard Church Of God. Anyone, especially young girls in tight dresses, who surfs The Painful Truth site WILL BE SPANKED. I do this out of LOVE and I FEAR for your ETERNAL LIFE! I don't think you brethren GET IT!!!

In Christ's Name,

Herbert W. Armstrong

You can go directly to GCG at

Poll problems: Uh oh. A recent problem with the poll service MD uses, Express Poll, sadly led to results of the latest poll being "wiped" in some sort of glitch. Last time we checked over 50 votes had been received and over 51% of responses were in agreement with the question: Will there be a literal 1000 year millennium? Less than 10% were unsure and those who disagreed were around 40%. We'll have a new poll up soon. Hopefully this time things will go smoothly. Express Poll is usually a very reliable service.

February 3 Edition

The Name Drain: WCG congregations are increasingly dropping the denominational brand and choosing new names. Canada's Northern Light reports on one example:

Why would a congregation choose a unique name? For Colin Wallace, the reason lies primarily in the need for members to identify more with their local context than the denominational one. This follows the administration's shift of emphasis onto local congregations. It has not been an easy transition and some have found it difficult to move away from a "headquarters" orientation. Wallace says his hope was that taking members through the process of adopting a local name for their congregation would increase a sense of personal ownership and boost morale. A graphic artist produced a professional logo for them, which was received warmly. Wallace reports that the Saskatoon members have grown to love the logo and motto, and "identify very closely and proudly with the Bridge City Community Church."

Then again, could there be a survival strategy in a re-branding? When the WCG finally crashes in flames, perhaps a local identity could provide a lifeboat as salaried pastors, like rats from a sinking ship, scramble to shepherd their congregants (and their wallets) to the fire exits. Much easier to "cut the umbilical chord" now. To repeat a quote from a minister in the January 26 edition:

I doubt very much whether the denomination will survive more than a few more years, attendance and income cannot keep going down and down and down… Our congregation's affiliation with the WCG is very superficial and most would be happy to cut the umbilical chord.

Spanking the Nations: The spirit of old time Armstrongism seems perfectly captured in this recent forum posting:

Yes, I too look forward to the KOG [Kingdom of God]. I wonder if it is wrong to think about God spanking the nations. I read about godly kings in the OT burning and destroying the pagan temples. I think I am going to look forward to that. Maybe even have a part in destroying little baal churches and burning them down. I know the people are not called now but can you see the looks on their faces when they try and build a little church with a pagan cross on it. Then you step in and destroy it. All nations will learn about the true God of heaven. Picture the look on the non-believers in God. Those sweet little Jesus people. I can't wait!

Forget fantasies about the Kingdom, dude, get therapy - quick!

February 1 Edition

Half-baked Whole-grain: Churches of God are a bit like varieties of sliced bread. There's standard white (WCG), high fiber white (UCG), fruit loaf (PCG) and so forth. Down in Goodlettsville, Tennessee they've launched their own bakery special, the Wholeworld Church of God, complete with a radio broadcast called "The Unshakeable Kingdom of God."  Wholeworld seems an ambitious name for a group that could probably squeeze everyone into a Chattanooga telephone booth. Perhaps whole-grain would be more appropriate?

Darryl Henson responds: It took him a while, but Darryl Henson, spiritual guru of the Congregation of God has finally responded to enquiries made by Richard Burkard. Henson asked that his very long statement be posted in its entirety or not at all. Fair enough. We've given him a page to himself where the unedited uncorrected statement - which first appeared on JLF - can be read. Enjoy!

Memoir of the Tribulation: A new feature on Pam Dewey's web site is called Memoir of the Tribulation: A personal perspective on the Time of Tribulation of the WCG (1972-1982). Writing on COW, Pam says:

This first section starts back in the Pre-Tribulation Period... with the original Co-Worker letter by HWA from 1953 that introduced the Amazing New Truth of the 19 year time cycles and the proposed Time of Arrival of Christ to set up the Kingdom--later upgraded to the Astonishing Revelations immortalized in "1975 In Prophecy"...

I get regularly asked just what in my experience caused me to leave the WCG in 1978, and thus I've decided to bundle all the aspects of the answer to that-- and a whole lot of other questions I've been asked-- in this Memoir...

It also provides an interesting "case history" that illustrates a lot of the issues of what makes some religious movements particularly unhealthy to the spiritual, mental, emotional and some times even physical lives of those involved. So it will likely be of interest to some folks without a COG background, just as a sample view of a sociological phenomenon.

Gary Scott's Feazell Review: A recent review of Mike Feazell's Liberation has been posted by Gary Scott (there's another on this site). There's also an article on Gary's site called The Churches of God - A Sociological Examination that asks why some stay in the WCG fold, while others leave.

A Masterpiece Passes from the Web: It appears that the inspired satirical site has disappeared temporarily. Established two or three years ago, it was cutting edge stuff. One MD reader comments:

I'm just curious as to what happened to the Graveyard Church of God website??  I've clicked on the link and it either opens a dialog box stating not found or it would link me to the Painful Truth website.  Did it got removed for some unknown reason, i.e. lawsuits, or some other reason?  I hope it's temporary, because I really like it very much and it is hilarious and I visit it quite often for "release" purposes.

According to Bill Ferguson, the GCOG files have been passed on to "The Archivist", and the site will reappear. Good news!  We'll post the new URL when it becomes available.

And finally - let battle commence: Recently WCG discussion forums have been blinking in and out of existence like Klingon birds of prey on an event horizon. First COW dropped out of warp to orbit Planet Herb. Then a rebel MOO COW forum jettisoned escape pods, only to be sucked into a black hole within days. Now an intrepid gang of COW posters has beamed aboard a new vessel, Battleground Board, in the hope that phaser canons can be used without bovine collateral damage. You think we're just making this stuff up, right? Click on the links and you'll discover that truth can be stranger than fiction...


Update Archives

Volume 1: Updates for May - July 2001

Volume 2: Updates for August - October 2001

Volume 3: Updates for Nov. 2001 - January 2002